Kawhi Leonard showed us again on Monday night he can be an efficient player for the 2013-2014 season Spurs. In 21 minutes, Leonard made 5 of his 13 shots, grabbed 12 boards, dished 4 assists and only had 1 turnover in the 94-98 loss to Denver. The Spurs, and Pop, played without Duncan, Ginobili and Parker, who will meet back up with the team in Atlanta on Thursday. Denver’s prospect Kenneth Farried (who came out of the same draft class as Leonard) had a solid game, scoring 11 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter hitting 10 of his 12 shots. He also grabbed 9 boards, which he’s notorious for already in the league.
The Spurs looked like they were working some kinks out of Pop’s notorious system, and we saw flashes of the brilliance that led them to the Finals last season. Denver, being coached by Brian Shaw as George Karl’s replacement, seemed to look oddly familiar. They ran, pounded it inside, fired 3’s and kept the tempo up. Shaw, much like Popovich and George Karl, is a coach who’s past consists of a successful system. He spent 6 years as an assistant coach with Phil Jackson and the past 2 seasons with Frank Vogel, so it’s no surprise that the Nuggets looked pretty organized in their sets. Both offenses flowed nicely, getting the rock inside the paint off of quick ball movement and slick passing (24 assists to SA and 22 to DEN), while at the same time drawing fouls pretty regularly (61 free throws between the 2). The Spurs hit 50 percent of their 3’s, but only hit 58 percent of their free throws… and Kawhi Leonard missed 8 of his own. If we’ve learned anything, those could be important come certain times… like… the finals (sorry guys). But overall, we should be content with the outing from our Spurs. They looked comfortable with their roles and places in Popovich’s system, and Leonard showed more signs of steady development, showing us fans that he can provide almost everything we need from him to fill our stat line.
Looking forward; I’m pretty excited for Thursday’s game in Atlanta. We’ll be playing a familiar face in Budenholzer, plus the whole crew will be playing… so it’s like a big happy family reunion! In all seriousness, though, watch the game in Atlanta on Thursday if you get the chance, it should be some pretty good basketball. Hopefully we’ll see a win, but at least Pop gets to see an old friend. At least there’s that.