All good things must come to an end, right? But do they have to come as a blowout loss to the Portland Trailblazers? The Spurs had not lost in over a month before heading into Portland Tuesday night on their eighth road game in a row and with an 11 game win streak. The game was nothing short of a disaster. Yes, Duncan and Parker sat out, but the fact that the Spurs lost by FORTY points against the lower-ranked Blazers (who once led by 48 points) should cause some worry for the Spurs. The Spurs led once; with a one point lead, and were unable to overcome a strong team effort by the Blazers who were led by Gerald Wallace’s 16 points and 10 rebounds and five other players who scored 16+ points. With Duncan and Parker sitting on the bench and “resting”, and Manu Ginobili sitting on the bench injured, the Spurs needed someone to step up to keep them in the game. Kawhi Leonard had 24 points and 10 rebounds to led the Spurs who were clearly suffering from their starters absence on the offensive end.
Parker and Duncan together are averaging just under 40 points, ironically the same amount of points the Spurs lost by. The problem, however, seems to lie in a psychological problem with the guys that were playing on the floor. Without the leadership of their two starters, no one else on the team was unable to be productive (minus Leonard). Instead of taking the opportunity to step up and become the leader, it appears the that the players asked to fill in the void of Parker/Duncan were unable to do so. So here is the question. Should the Spurs be worried? I think they should. What the loss to Portland showed us was the bench players/other starters cannot play without the leadership and experience of Duncan and Parker and can’t hang with the stars of another team. Duncan and Parker are going to be playing tonight, but they have showed their true significance to the team without playing. If the Spurs are unable to win with them on the court, however, perhaps there are bigger problems to worry about.
So how important is this All-Star break for the aging Spurs? Very. If the Spurs had won against Portland and win tonight, I would say it is coming at a bad time. However, after having an 11 game win streak end, the rest and refocus that come with the break is much needed. The Spurs’ groove seems to be off now, and they need to focus on incorporating Duncan and Parker back into an effective starting rotation; and hope that Manu Ginboili gets healthy fast. Entering the break being (at the most) 12 games over .500, the Spurs find themselves in a good position as the playoff hunt gets tougher. They sit comfortably 2.5 games ahead of Dallas in their division and are in the top five among all the teams in the league.
If the Spurs are able to rest up, get healthy and relax their legs over break (which should be easy for Tim Duncan since he is not playing for the first time in a VERY long time), the Spurs should come out of the weekend ready to attack. Like I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, their schedule does not get easier. The Spurs need all the wins they can get heading into the playoffs so they earn home court advantage which would help them significantly. I honestly believe the Spurs have a shot, people. Especially in the west. I don’t think there is anyone in the west playing as well as the Spurs or Oklahoma City, and the east is run by two (maybe three if the Magic/Celtics get themselves together). The point is, the momentum the Spurs are taking into the break, despite their loss should translate into the second half of the season. I expect them to come out and match up against Chicago and (shortly after) New York with ease (especially the Knicks). There are approximately nine weeks left in the regular season; the Spurs must take this rest seriously and get ready to attack coming out of the weekend.
I know I said I was going to talk about how serious the Spurs are for contending for the NBA title, but that is my area of focus next time (especially after the break). Thanks for reading!
About the Author
Written by Chelsea Curto
Chelsea is a college senior who is majoring in art history and minoring in communications. She plans to become a sports broadcaster. She is a former Division 1 athlete who rowed for a year and a half in college. She enjoys any and all sports, especially basketball. She plans to pursue her education in communication at the graduate school level. Follow her on Twitter: @chelseacurto