Twenty days ago I wrote a Dare to the Spurs Bench that expected us to win four out of five before the All Star Break, saying, "This would put us at 42 wins in the first half."
The bench responded tremendously in the absence of Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan and even Tony Parker - with excellent play by Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green and continued stability from Tiago Splitter, and indeed we are at 42-14 and on target still for 60 wins
It may not be significant that Jack was out during this stretch, but in his absence other guys off the bench stepped up. Jack takes a lot of ill-advised shots. It's great when they go in, but ... Kawhi's corner three, called on the fly on a moment's notice after a foul-to-give and executed perfectly as a result of "thousands of times in practice," was way better than isolating for a match-up - especially when Tony going up-and-under is the other option on that play. Three D's ... drive, draw dish.
I'm now hoping for three out of four to wrap up the Rodeo Trip. We can beat the Kings tonight and the Suns twice and we won't lose to both the Clippers and Warriors. One of them is acceptable. I think we can handle the Warriors.
But the point of the dare is to expect the bench to win these games. I was suggesting instilling confidence by making them have to win in tough situations on the road - as preparation for the playoffs. I want them to grow in confidence and stature and overcome last year's disappearance against OKC in the Finals.
I don't mind losing these games with the bench on the floor at key moments - we probably don't need the wins in the end to win the division and home court, but that is what I meant by daring the bench to win 60 games. I want these wins to come from the hands of Tiago, Kawhi and Danny. Not Manu, Tim and Tony. I want them to continue building confidence and getting tougher.
So far, so good. Now Three out of Four to end the trip. It isn't going to be easy. Let's get it done.
Go Spurs Go.