Read the opposing argument from Babe Ruthless.
Football season is over, and slowly The Sports Debates will begin to switch gears on to other sports. Enter today’s debate on the validity of the San Antonio Spurs. Are they the best team in the NBA as we approach the unofficial mid-point of the season with the All-Star game coming up next weekend? Well, obviously, the answer is yes.
The easy defense of this is to take a quick peek at the NBA standings. Through Tuesday’s action, the Spurs had a five game lead over the Celtics for best overall record in the NBA and a 5.5 game lead over Babe Ruthless’ beloved Miami Heat. Projected out over a full season at the current pace, the Spurs would have nearly an eight game lead over the Celtics. That’s no small advantage.
One key advantage the Spurs have over the other contenders for the “best team in the NBA” throne –such as the Celtics, Heat, and the Lakers – is the fact that the Spurs have been consistently great the majority of the year. Sure, they’ve made missteps along the way. No team can be losing to the Hornets by 24. But if you look at the schedule to this point, the longest losing streak of the season for the Spurs is two games, and that was last month. They followed that “losing streak” with an eight game winning streak. On the season the Spurs have had three winning streaks of at least eight games, including two double digit streaks. That’s consistency.
Compare that to the other Big Three. The Celtics have three two game losing streaks, and they are currently in a streak where they have lost four of ten, including a loss to the Wizards. The early season struggles of the Heat are well-documented, leading to speculation (and a debate on this site) that head coach Eric Spoelstra was on the hot seat. The Heat had a three game losing streak early in the season and topped that with a four game losing streak last month, including a loss to the Clippers. The Lakers, out of all the top teams, have been the model of inconsistency, with two three game losing and a four game losing streak. Their struggles have prompted talk of acquiring Carmelo Anthony. Do they belong the title of best team with those rumors flying around?
Last month I tooted the horn of the Spurs when discussing the hottest team in the NBA, and they certainly haven’t cooled off. Obviously, the big three of Manu Ginobili, the former Mr. Eva Longoria (a.k.a. Tony Parker), and Tim Duncan – who is somewhat taking a back seat this season – are still there. But management has wisely installed some youth to surround the old guys. Leading the youth charge are Gary Neal and DeJuan Blair – who will both be laying in the Rookie/Sophomore game next weekend. Look who leads the Spurs in offensive rebounds? It’s not Duncan. It’s Blair, and that is in just over 21 minutes per game. Head coach Gregg Popovich has done an outstanding job of keeping his team fresh to this point, with no one averaging over 32 minutes a game. Folks, that’s going to play big dividends come playoff time.
The Spurs may not be the sexiest team in the NBA. But they are glad to give that title to their rivals if they can hold up that trophy in June. To this point in the season, they are in the best position.