San Antonio Spurs News

San Antonio Spurs Basketball is BACK!

Mar 23, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) drives to the basket while guarded by Memphis Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph (50) during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 23, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) drives to the basket while guarded by Memphis Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph (50) during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
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The San Antonio Spurs were able to put one of their best performances together to beat the Memphis Grizzlies for the first time this season, 97-90.

The Spurs are back!

In an incredibly important game against a division rival, the Spurs came out and delivered one of their best all around performances of the NBA season.

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The Grizzlies had won the first two matchups of the series, and were threatening to take a 3-0 regular season series lead. This would have been problematic because if the playoffs were to start today, the Spurs and Grizzlies would play in the first round.

However, the Spurs came out on military night and moved the ball on a level I haven’t seen in quite a few games. If you wondering what Spurs basketball was supposed to look like, last night was a great indicator.

LaMarcus Aldridge

Since returning from injury, Aldridge has been sensational.

He has not only found his shooting touch, which had alluded him all season, but it’s his aggressiveness on the offensive end that has impressed everyone. Since his return, Aldridge is averaging 21.4 points on 51% shooting, leading the team in that span.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News asked Aldridge about his recent play:

“I’m just playing basketball really,” Aldridge said. “I’m trying to take my shots and play in the flow. I’m not being as passive as I was earlier in the year and it’s working out for me.”

“I’m not being as passive” is definitely true. When Aldridge plays on a high-level offensively, it opens things up for Leonard, creating two perennial scorers instead of one.

LaMarcus Aldridge is now 1 of 7 players to score 15,000+ points since he entered NBA in 2006 (LeBron, Dirk, Durant, Wade, Carmelo and Kobe).

— Jordan Howenstine (@AirlessJordan) March 24, 2017

Aldridge finished with 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting, along with eight rebounds and three blocks. Aldridge led the Spurs in points, rebounds, and blocks.

Team Performance

Aldridge may have led the way, but many Spurs players stepped up big last night.

Leonard, who at one point was surging towards an MVP award, is now the second-leading scorer on his team for the past few games. He told Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News that Aldridge’s aggressiveness is something the Spurs need to achieve success.

Kawhi on LA: "He has a great rhythm right now. He's getting to his shot and we are finding him…We need him." #Spurs

— Tom Orsborn (@tom_orsborn) March 24, 2017

Leonard finished with 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting, along with seven rebounds and four assists. For fans wondering why Leonard hasn’t been able to score his usual 30 points like he did a few weeks back, this is probably the reason why.

Kawhi says in the last 2 games defenses aren't letting him play 1-on-1 anymore. Doubling him in post, having extra defenders on P&Rs.

— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) March 24, 2017

Patty Mills chipped in 15 points off the bench, including five assists and 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. Tony Parker had a solid game as well, contributing 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting, with a team leading seven assists.

Tony Parker now has 6,600 career assists. He's 1 of 2 active players with 18,000 points and 6,600 assists (LeBron James).

— Jordan Howenstine (@AirlessJordan) March 24, 2017

The Spurs are at their absolute best when the ball movement is lethal. The Spurs had 26 assists in last night’s game, while holding the Grizzlies to just 18. Not only did they move the ball well, but they did without turning the ball over, committing just six turnovers, a season-low.

Mills acknowledged how crucial it was to play turnover-free basketball:

“That’s a mental thing, to be strong with the ball, make good passes, easy passes, to guys shooting open shots,” Mills said. “No home-run passes tonight.”

They managed to muster up 26 assists and only six turnovers against a top five defensive team, which is incredibly impressive. This should give the Spurs confidence going forward.

Defense

While the offense may go through slumps, the Spurs defense remains elite.

The Spurs have held 52% of their opponents below 100 points in their 71 games this season.

— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) March 24, 2017

In the modern era of three point shooting and scoring, the Spurs holding their opponents below 100 in 52% of their games is incredible. Who would have imagined the Spurs being this dominant on defense after the great Tim Duncan retired?

The Spurs held Marc Gasol to just 15 points on 6-of-15 shooting, forcing him to commit six turnovers. Mike Conley led the way for the Grizzlies, scoring 22 points on 7-of-18 shooting.

No other Grizzlies scored in double-figures.

Looking Ahead

The Spurs defense has been consistent all season. However, it’s the offense that has been up and down, due in large part to injuries to Leonard, Aldridge, Parker, and Gasol.

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With a healthy squad, the Spurs are finally putting together some solid offensive outings. If they can find that elite ball movement that led them to a Championship in 2014, the Spurs become an incredibly scary opponent.

The Spurs and the Grizzlies will face off one more time this season at the AT&T Center. With a win last night, the Grizzlies are 1.5 games back of the sixth seed Oklahoma City Thunder.

Ironically, another win against the Grizzlies in early April will end up pushing them back in the standings, increasing the likelihood of a first round playoff matchup.

The Spurs are 2.0 games back of the Golden State Warriors for the number one seed. This upcoming week will likely give us a better indication of the Spurs chances at capturing the top spot in the Western Conference.

Upcoming games for the Spurs:

(Home) – Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Warriors, and Utah Jazz.

Upcoming games for the Warriors:

(Home) – Sacramento Kings, Grizzlies

(Away) – Rockets and Spurs on back-to-back nights

(Home) – Rockets

Both teams face incredible challenges, except the Spurs get to do it at home. Hopefully, that presents an advantage for the Spurs, to which they can capitalize on.

Regardless of the seeding, the Spurs biggest focus is finding rhythm and consistency on the offensive end. If they find it, and maintain it, it doesn’t matter who they play.

The Spurs are getting hot at the perfect time.

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