The Spurs Leading the Pack Debate Verdict

February 10, 2011

Read the opposing arguments from Loyal Homer and Babe Ruthless.

The San Antonio Spurs are off to one of the best starts in NBA history. And when you consider that their historical company has each gone on to win the championship in the respective seasons they started so strongly, it makes you wonder if the Spurs are destined for the same fate.

But we are not trying to gaze into a crystal ball, today.

This debate is not about whether the Spurs will win the NBA Finals, it is about whether they are the best team in the league. And based on what I have read from Babe Ruthless and Loyal Homer, it seems clear to me that the answer is – Yes, they are (congratulations to Loyal Homer)!

Babe Ruthless does raise some key questions about the Spurs performance to this point in the season. Specifically, he calls into doubt the Spurs record by pointing out that they have what many would consider an easy schedule. And while it is true that they have won the vast majority of those cupcake games, they have faltered when stepping onto the hardwood against steeper competition.

Although I can agree with that assessment, the exact same statement can be made about those other top tier teams that Babe Ruthless points to as challengers to the Spurs. The Boston Celtics have losses to the Dallas Mavericks, Orlando Magic, New Orleans Hornets, and Chicago Bulls, as well as the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors. Likewise, the Heat have lost to the Celtics twice, the Mavs twice, and have also lost to the Magic, as well as Memphis and Indiana.

The same can be illustrated by dissecting the records of the Maverics, Magic, and every other team in the league. Each organization has played more than 50 games, and none are undefeated. And so the fact that the Spurs lost a couple of their 52 games played thus far to other good teams is just not enough evidence to refute their claim as the best in the NBA.

On the flip side, though, Loyal Homer points to some statistics that CANNOT be matched by any other teams in the league.

Only once so far this season have the Spurs lost consecutive games, and that was simply a two-game skid on the road against the Knicks, then in Boston against the Celtics (a very understandable couple of losses). And while those consecutive losses have not been repeated by the Spurs, one feat they have duplicated is following their losses up with a LONG series of consecutive wins.

It should also be noted that their schedule may on the surface appear to be one of the weaker in the league, but the actual average winning percentage of their opponents (.506) has statistically posed a tougher strength of schedule than what the Heat (.477), Celtics (.485), Magic (.493), Lakers (.479), and the Bulls (.482) have each faced.

In all reality, there are still plenty of games left in the season, and the fact that the Spurs have the best record in the NBA right now is no guarantee that they will win the Finals. But teams like the 2007 New England Patriots will tell you that the best team doesn’t always win the championship.

No one can look into a crystal ball and predict which team will win the championship, but you can look at the records and see who has been most dominant – the San Antonio Spurs.

My Zimbio Blog Directory Sport Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Add us to your technorati favorites Digg!
Bookmark and Share

Advertisements

The Spurs Leading the Pack Debate

February 9, 2011

Read the opposing arguments from Loyal Homer and Babe Ruthless.

Well, another NFL season is officially in the books. For those of you now shifting your focus to basketball, let me get you up to speed on how the season has gone thus far…

The Denver Nuggets decided to trade, then not trade, then trade, then not trade Carmelo Anthony.

Cleveland Cavaliers fans were shocked when Zydrunas Ilgauskas and some other guys decided to play ball in Miami with the Heat.

Speaking of the Cavs, that team is plunging the depths of failure to find out just how deep rock-bottom really is. The Cavs are well on the way to becoming the worst team not only in NBA history, but in the entire history of American professional sports with a historic 25-game losing streak.

Finally, with the All-Star break looming on the horizon, the team leading the standings with the best record in the league is… (pause for dramatic effect)… the San Antonio Spurs.

Through the first half of the season, the Spurs have rocketed to an impressive record of 42-8, a full 4.5 games ahead of any other teams in the league. But with the experienced and team-oriented Boston Celtics, the superstar-laden Miami Heat, or the two-time reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers out there – Are the San Antonio Spurs REALLY the best team in basketball at the season midpoint?

According to Loyal Homer, the Spurs record is an indication of the fact that they are the best team in the league while Babe Ruthless feels the Spurs are not the best team, despite their current spot in the standings.

How do you measure the worth of a team? Let the arguments begin!

My Zimbio Blog Directory Sport Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Add us to your technorati favorites Digg! Bookmark and Share


The Spurs Leading the Pack Debate… Mix of Experience and Youth

February 9, 2011

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.

My Zimbio Blog Directory Sport Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Add us to your technorati favorites Digg! Bookmark and Share


The Spurs Leading the Pack Debate… Mis-Leading The NBA

February 9, 2011

Read the opposing argument from Loyal Homer.

Obviously the Spurs are good. The simple fact they are the first team to 40 wins in the NBA this season proves as much. But are they really the best team in the NBA? I am not sold.

Admittedly, a quick glance at the first half stats would lead one to believe the Spurs are indeed the best team in the NBA. After all, the San Antonio Spurs own an NBA leading 42-8 record and hold a 6.5 game lead over the team with the next best record in the Western Conference – The Dallas Mavericks. What’s not to like about that?

But upon closer inspection of the record books the Spurs don’t look quite as well… sharp. The Spurs have absolutely been dominant at home (25-2), and absolutely dominated all but the best teams in the league (winning 26 of 29 games against teams with less than 30 wins). But it is their strength that also exposes their weaknesses.

The Spurs have been upset more than once by teams they should have beaten easily, and those losses usually came on the road. The Portland Trail Blazers, New York Knicks, and L.A. Clippers are by no means among the worst teams in the league, but they are opponents that the Spurs should have been able to beat. Each upset pulled off exposed the soft underbelly of the Spurs’ road game to the league.

Obviously most teams haven’t been able to capitalize on this weakness, but most teams aren’t really in the Spurs’ league. The Spurs really haven’t been challenged much this season. More than half of the team’s wins have come against sub .500 teams. Similarly the Spurs have played almost twice as many teams with less than 30 wins than teams in the 30-plus column.

It is the teams in this latter category that have been especially good at making the Spurs look beatable this season. The Boston Celtics (38-13), Orlando Magic (32-20), Dallas Mavericks (36-15), and New Orleans Hornets (32-21) are all what I would consider worthy opponents for the San Antonio Spurs, and they have each found ways to beat the NBA’s “best.” This general point includes a 22-point beat down by the Magic and a 24-point shellacking at the hands of the New Orleans Hornets. Keep in mind this is the same Hornets team that earlier in the season dealt the Spurs one of only two defeats on their home court. It appears that when matched against the league’s best, the Spurs lose a bit of their shine.

You might be asking yourself, “Hey Babe Ruthless, if the Spurs aren’t the best team in the NBA then who do you think is better?”

I don’t propose than any one team is, but rather a few teams. For starters, the Miami Heat. Now I am well aware that all my unabashed LeBron love doesn’t sit well with everyone (even the judge for this debate), but I ask the haters to give me the benefit of the doubt on this one. Heck, even Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban admits the Heat are the best and he is an ego maniac.

LeBron James and the Miami Heat own the second best record in the Eastern Conference (37-14) and the most road wins in all of the NBA with 18. The team is heating up as the season progresses. They are among the hottest teams in the NBA right now, as they are currently in the middle of a six game win streak, and don’t show any signs of letting up. Imagine if the Heat had opened up out of the gate as strong as they are playing now, there would be no doubt they would be the undisputed best in basketball. That calls the Spurs claim into question.

Similarly, the success of the Boston Celtics (an important link to read) serve as another crack in the foundation of San Antonio’s claim to the top spot in the NBA. With a 38-13 record the Celtics are just a handful of games off the Spurs’ pace. The Celtics, who beat the Spurs 105-103 earlier this season, have posted nearly as good a record in arguably a tougher conference than the Spurs. Add to that the fact that the Celtics have been slowed of late by injury and a grueling road schedule, and we are talking about a team that might just be better than their record reveals.

The point of today’s debate was merely to cast a shadow of doubt on the Spurs claim to being the best and the best. Personally, I’m not even sold that the Spurs are better than a team in their own division – the New Orleans Hornets, who bested them twice already this season – but I feel confident that the stats prove the Spurs cannot be anointed, unequivocally, as the best team in basketball.

My Zimbio Blog Directory Sport Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Add us to your technorati favorites Digg! Bookmark and Share