Last night the San Antonio Spurs were unceremoniously dumped out of this year’s playoffs in the NBA. Having succumbed at the hands of their instate foe divisional rival the Dallas Mavericks. It has to be said that this was all foreseen the very moment they lost their indomitable super sub Manu Ginobli before the start of the playoffs. If nothing else this was as much a gut wrench to the team as it was for their fans.
However in losing the series outright (4-1) and the result of the game last night being so conclusive with an emphatic 106-93 win. The Dallas Mavericks move on with a no doubt happy owner in Mark Cuban smiling from ear to ear. For the San Antonio Spurs the ride while it lasted was a pleasant one for their fans and the community at large.
However it can’t hide the fact that the team underperformed. And much of that responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of coach Gregg Popovich and that of his bench players who failed to show up. It was left to the team’s erstwhile duo of All Stars in Tim Duncan and Tony Parker to try and carry the team on their shoulders. And as gallantly as they both performed the task was made all the more insurmountable by the ineptitude shown by the duo’s supporting cast.
Popovich in large part was outcoached by his counterpart Rick Carlisle throughout much of this series. But then again the Mavericks’ players also stepped up to the plate and answered the call of their coach to go out there and execute. And nowhere was this more apparent than with the play of Josh Howard who proved to be the catalyst for the Mavericks through much of the series when it mattered most. There were also valid contributions from Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd. For Nowitzki he may well be now cast off that name tag of being considered just a regular season player, instead of being a postseason performer.
And that if anything has proven to be the difference between the two teams. When asked for the contributions to be made in whatever way possible it was the players of the Mavericks who stepped and answered the call. For the Spurs it was the complete opposite but for the exceptions of Duncan and Parker. The Spurs were languid and slow to the touch and but for their sole victory in game 2 of the series. This would definitely have been a blowout for the Dallas Mavericks. The heroics of Tony Parker in that 105-84 triumph cannot be underscored. Parker himself single handedly willed the team victory and ended up scoring 38 pts in his team’s triumph.
The thing now everyone may well be asking is what now happens to the San Antonio Spurs ? Having won four NBA championships in the decade. They may well have been considered a modern day dynasty. And if nothing else theirs is a consistency that’s not often seen in the game over the decade in question. However with Duncan now viewed as an aged veteran no longer being able to perform like the player he once was in his halcyon days. It has to be said that this is no longer the team that once performed so methodically and whom about everything was admired as an organization within the NBA. Never viewed as one of the more glamorous franchises within the NBA. That spotlight is often shone on the Los Angeles Lakers , Chicago Bulls (Jordan era) and Boston Celtics because of the renowned history. Though now there are fans who believe that the Cleveland Cavaliers ought to be added to the mix. I beg to differ as having perhaps the game’s most celebrated player in LeBron James at present doesn’t give you legitimacy for staking that particular claim. You have to win something first be considered a perennial contender amongst the game’s elite.
The San Antonio Spurs for all sense and purpose at this juncture while still viewed as one the premier franchises within the NBA. It can no longer be considered as being amongst the elite teams within the league. It has an aging roster and at its core two players in Duncan and Ginobli can no longer carry the burden of being top notch performers on a regular basis. It’d be remiss to suggest however that their careers are over. As both players can still contribute to the franchise. But the real issue is how best can they each now serve this franchise as we look to the future. If nothing else this has to be something that the management and executives within the Spurs’ organization have to be considering.
And it’ll be down to GM R C Buford and Popovich’s coaching staff to make the prudent decisions that he need to be made as to how best to move forward. One thing for sure is that the present roster of the Spurs will not be one that can bring another title to the franchise. It’s far too reliant on members who are aged and if nothing else aren’t as athletic as a number of the teams around the league are. The template that they may well choose to follow is that of the Portland Trailblazers who’ve a core of young players that’ve jelled and progressed together. And who have new become one of the bright spots in the league providing a success story for themselves , their fans and the game as a whole.
It’s hoped that the franchise won’t fall into the depths of mediocrity in the ensuing years. But then again that was what brought about their rise when they were able to obtain Tim Duncan from Wake Forest as their first round pick in the 1997 NBA Draft. The rest as we know from thereon in became history.