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Fun With Small Sample Sizes, Part II

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What a coincidence! My last entry was titled "Fun with Small Sample Sizes" and three days later Bill Simmons writes the following, based nearly entirely on what he saw during the Spurs' recent game at the Clippers:

They seem tired of each other, tired of their coach, tired of playing these 110-game seasons. Poor Duncan looks like he just wants to climb into a jacuzzi and disappear for about 10 months. Even when they rally to the occasion, like with the Dallas game a couple of weeks ago, you never get the sense that they're having that much fun. It's just a grim team. You can win one playoff series like that, and maybe even two, but not four. At some point, somebody else will have too much energy for you. I bet this is Popovich's last season. Just a gut feeling.

A "grim team?" The Spurs? The same team with a bench that explodes every time Brent Barry hits a three? The same team with Nick Van Exel waving his towel every time Beno Udrih successfully gets the ball across half court? I love the Sports Guy, but he made the mistake of reading way too much into one game, one game that just happened to be a SEGABABA and the fourth game in six nights.

Are the Spurs bringing the full effort every night? No. They're biding their time because they, compared to the other legit contenders, have the least to prove/gain during the regular season. DET has the Larry Brown grudge and has come out and said they want HCA throughout the playoffs (while the Spurs have publically downplayed the need for HCA). MIA is trying to integrate multiple new pieces into their starting lineup and simulatenously prove they even have a shot against DET. PHX wants to show they are still contenders without Amare and Avery has spent all year trying to alter DAL's personality into a more defensively intense team.

As for Pop leaving, this thought has not crossed my mind once this entire year. What coach leaves a team that has is a legitimate contender for at least two more years?

Simmons does make some good points; namely pointing out Duncan is not himself and NVE is washed up. I have no problem with him thinking the Spurs aren't going to get the job done this year. But let's wait until the first round of the playoffs before declaring the thrill is gone. For the Spurs, the thrill is in the challenge, and the challenge doesn't begin until the playoffs. For now they're Einstein solving quadratic equations.