The Scouting Report: at San Antonio Spurs
Projected starting line-up: Tony Parker (gametime decision if not look for Patty Mills or Cory Joseph), Marco Belinelli, Kawhi Leonard, Jeff Ayers (formerly Pendergraph) Tim Duncan
#SPOILERALERT: The Spurs are good again!
Best record in the Western Conference.
Six-game winning streak.
Just another year in which the San Antonio Spurs continue to show the rest of the NBA how it’s done.
The “boring” Spurs are just continuing to play winning basketball on both ends with meticulous execution.
The Spurs come into Friday’s showdown with the Blazers with a 1.5 game lead for first place in the Western Conference and as the only team in the NBA to come in ranked in the top-five in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
The Spurs have had some changes and their share of injuries, but as they seem to always do, have kept the machine running.
Danny Green broke his hand, Manu Ginobili was brought into the starting line-up and now is apparently out of it.
Tiago Splitter was scheduled to miss 3-5 weeks after spraining his shoulder but the Spurs have only continued to win with Splitter out of the line-up.
After a rough first month of the season, Tim Duncan has rounded back into form.
Since the calendar turned to December, Duncan has been shooting 50 percent from the field in over 30 minutes per game. In that stretch, Duncan is averaging over 16 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
Duncan’s been a stud and that has helped them withstand whatever they’ve lost from Tiago Splitter, at least in the last few games.
Of their past six games, their closest encounter was an overtime win against the Memphis Grizzlies in which the Spurs gave up a double-digit lead with under two minutes left but won by virtue of their execution down the stretch.
Kawhi Leonard hasn’t made “the leap” quite yet from solid young player to superstar but he’s still one of the best wings in the NBA and his length and athleticism is a major problem for any team on a given night.
The who when it comes to the Spurs bench sometimes wavers as Popovich has been known to make changes based on match-ups but everybody on their bench is ready to contribute when called upon.
However, one player in particular has been a bastion of consistency this season off the Spurs bench and that’s been veteran Boris Diaw (a Blazer Banter favorite).
Diaw, in this his 10th season is playing some of the best basketball of his career off the Spurs bench.
Diaw’s production per 36 minutes is as good as it’s been in four years and he has become a pretty solid defender for the Spurs. Marco Belinelli, also, whether coming off the bench or starting has been a consistent contributor alongside the likes of Parker, Duncan and Ginobili.
The Spurs are the Spurs and sometimes we need a reminder of just how special being the Spurs is because they have been so good for so long.
A win for them would extend their lead in the West to 2.5 games but Portland has an opportunity to come within a half game of first place in the conference.