The Spurs start the 2014 preseason in Germany where they'll take on one of the best German League teams in Alba Berlin, who made the German League Finals last season but lost 3-1 to Bayern Muenchen. They did win the German Cup for the eighth time during their last campaign. In addition to those eight Cups, Alba has won eight German Championships since they formed in 1991 to make them the most successful team in Germany's history.
Alba has already started their regular season and are off to a 2-0 start behind their hot shooting (68% from the field and 42% from three.) Their starting lineup features three Americans and one of them, Jamal McLean, leads the team in scoring and rebounding after the two games with per-game averages of 14.5 and nine. In a testament to the Spurs' international flavor, the Spurs only have one more American on their roster than Alba.
Obviously there is quite a talent gap between these two teams, but it's an exhibition game and it will be fun just to see the Spurs back in action. 61% of Berlin's field goals have been assisted this season and I'm looking forward to watching two teams share the ball after watching the Spurs play their last 11 games against a couple of team's that featured superstars. That's not meant as a knock on the Thunder or Heat, but the Spurs move the ball and their players on a completely different level than the rest of the NBA.
Continuity is a word that is being thrown around the NBA these days and it's an understatement to say that the Spurs will be bringing back some familiar faces.
PATFO has brought the entire 2013-14 championship roster back after most of the summer went by and Aron Baynes ended up as the league's last free-agent to have an unsigned qualifying offer. After little interest from NBA teams and a strong World Cup performance he re-signed with the Spurs in late September on a one-year $2.1 million deal. Rookie Kyle Anderson, who was on record before the draft saying he'd love to play for the Spurs but that he didn't think he'd fall far enough in the draft to be selected by them, filled the 15th roster spot for the Spurs.
Tiago Splitter and Patty Mills will be unavailable for the Spurs as they're both recovering from injuries. Tiago is nursing a calf injury that shouldn't keep him out for too long, but Patty had to have surgery on his rotator cuff and could be out until February. A more optimistic recovery timeline could see him return to action around Christmas.
Boris Diaw met the team in Berlin after he was granted a little extra vacation after quite a year. The French national team won Eurobasket in the summer of 2013, then Boris played a huge part in the Spurs' NBA title before leading a Parker-less French team to a bronze finish in the FIBA World Cup a month ago.
The Spurs will of course be led by their longtime hall-of-fame quartet. This will be the 13th season the Spurs will feature Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili on the court and Gregg Popovich on the sidelines. If you missed the Washington Post article about Popovich and the end of Duncan's career there was a great fact in it:
Only five current NBA players have spent their entire careers with the same team for at least 12 seasons and three of them are in San Antonio, which is a testament to the loyalty and confidence that Duncan, Parker and Ginobili have in Popovich.
Kawhi Leonard will make his return to the court after being awarded the Finals MVP following his incredible performances in the last three games of the NBA Finals. Many fans want an extension for the youngster to happen sooner than later, but we may have to wait until next offseason as the upcoming rise to the salary cap complicates things.
Here we go Pounders and Spurs fans, get ready for San Antonio to embark on their quest for a sixth championship and the first back-to-back titles in franchise history. It's just the preseason and the first game of it, but Spurs basketball is back at 1 p.m. STTOTTM on NBATV.
The regular season starts just three weeks from yesterday on October 28th when they'll drop a banner, get some rings and face the Dallas Mavericks at the AT&T Center to kick off the campaign.
Before that happens the Spurs have some preseason games to get through:
The Spurs visit Turkey's Fenerbahce Ulker at 11 a.m. on October 11th in Istanbul and the game can be seen on NBATV.
The Phoenix Suns will host the Spurs on October 16th.
San Antonio will host the Heat and the Kings on the 18th at 20th.
Mike Budenholzer and the Hawks will make their second trip to SA on the 22nd.
The Spurs will finish the preseason down I-10 when they visit the Rockets, who handed SA 20% of their regular season losses last season, on the 24th at 7 p.m. on NBATV.
|Preseason Game 1|
|October, 8, 2014|
|O2 World, Berlin, Germany|
|1:00 pm CDT|
|Tony Parker||PG||Clifford Hammonds|
|Danny Green||SG||Niels Giffey|
|Kawhi Leonard||SF||Reggie Redding|
|Boris Diaw?||PF||Jamal McLean|
|Tim Duncan||C||Leon Radosevic|
Game Prediction: Spurs by 15.
As always, Tony must dominate Fisher.