San Antonio hasn't scored 100 points since March 29 against the Los Angeles Clippers, but with Sacramento in town and Tony Parker likely to play, perhaps a matchup with the lowly Kings could be the cure for what ails the Spurs.
The same probably could have been said on Saturday evening, when Atlanta came in without four of its top players. The Spurs didn't have Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili or Boris Diaw, but they let a Hawks team without Al Horford, Josh Smith, Devin Harris and Kyle Korver nearly sneak out of San Antonio with a win.
Gregg Popovich was none too pleased.
"In general ... in a lot of ways it was a pathetic performance," he said that night. "That kind of play isn't going to get us very far at the end of the season."
Luckily it wasn't the postseason, and another inferior team enters the AT&T Center tonight with plenty of distractions on the side. You know, things like relocation and having to endure the soon-to-be-transferred ownership of the Maloof brothers. It's another chance for the Spurs to reintegrate the pieces they've been missing for so long. Beginning with Tony Parker, who said at practice he'll play tonight barring a last-second change of heart by his coach.
As seasons progress into the latter stages prior to the playoffs, storylines become more intense. This has certainly applied here in San Antonio, as the Spurs have struggled since the beginning of March. We search for reasons why on a daily basis because we're looking for fresh thoughts on the subject on a minute-to-minute basis. But really it's quite simple.
Without two future Hall-of-Famers leading the way alongside Tim Duncan, this team is unlikely to perform at the elite level we're accustomed to watching. The analysis doesn't stop there, of course. It never does. But really, it could. What's wrong with the Spurs? Well, they're playing without two stars who have combined to win six NBA titles between them. My expert opinion here is that's a big part of the problem.
The absences of Parker and Ginobili have affected nearly every aspect of the way this system is run. Scoring, facilitating, defensive rotations, they're all dependent on this All-World duo. Yes, Manu has struggled this year, and we've been over and over the analysis of the topic; he still matters greatly to this bench that lacks punch without its primary playmaker.
But here come the Kings and their terrible defense, just begging to have 100 points dropped on them. This from our own Cameron Archer, whose game preview you should go read:
Unfortunately for the Kings, they are just downright miserable on defense, surrendering 112 points per 100 possessions, second worst only to the Charlotte Bobcats. They allow their opponents to shoot 51.5% from the floor, fourth worst in the league, and they consistently fail to close out on shooters, allowing the second highest opponent assist rate in the league."
If ever there was a game out there for Parker to re-establish his footing, and for the rest of the Spurs to once again find theirs, it's probably this one. It's unlikely we'll see the same defensive blitzes the Miami Heat threw at him all night, and there's certainly no Russell Westbrook on the floor to contend with athletically, so now's as good a chance as any.
Sometimes all you need is one game. But with Ginobili still injured and Boris Diaw having just undergone surgery to remove a synovial cyst from his lumbar spine (I know, right?), not to mention the uncertain status of Stephen Jackson, one game against the Kings won't solve all the issues at hand.
It's still potentially a step in the right direction.