Although it’s not exactly what we’ve been used to, fans of the San Antonio Spurs have plenty of reasons to love the team this Valentine’s Day.
It’s easy to get swept up in the intricacies of Valentine’s Day. Regardless of whether or not you have a Valentine, this is a day to celebrate the people and things that tug on your heart strings all year round. For a fanbase that lives and breathes the San Antonio Spurs, the Spurs Family has plenty of reasons to celebrate this year.
After a surprisingly weak year on offense in 2017, the Spurs have become a deeper team with reliable go-to scorers and loveable role players with incredible specialties. Ball movement was an issue for the team last season, but head coach Gregg Popovich has instilled the values of beautiful basketball in this year’s unit. As a result, the Spurs are standing pat in the competitive Western Conference playoff picture heading into the All-Star break.
The team has taken larger win totals into Valentine’s Day in the past; it’s clear that the Western Conference is in the midst of a transitionary period. For the first time in many seasons, it seems reasonable to say the Golden State Warriors have a chance at getting knocked off in the postseason. Teams such as Sacramento and the L.A. Lakers have become truly competitive, making the final three seeds of the playoff picture shrouded.
San Antonio is fighting to expand its legacy and continue the legendary playoff streak. Injuries and unstable on-court chemistry have reared their ugly heads, but the Spurs are once again on track to make a splash in the postseason.
Next: Staying away from Drama
Staying away from Drama
It’s very unlike the San Antonio Spurs to make headlines for anything but basketball itself, so last season’s continuous Kawhi Leonard drama took a toll on both the team and fans. After a hectic summer that saw Leonard and fan favorite Danny Green traded for DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl, the Spurs have gone back to their old ways.
Kawhi’s drama was a stressful and unwelcomed burden to a franchise that’s primary objective has remained consistent: winning above all else. Leonard decided that he couldn’t fit with the franchise any longer and put forth a long and torturous escape from the Alamo City.
San Antonio has historically been a place where players go to escape from the drama and paparazzi of a larger market while putting themselves in a position to grow and win. Having a player of Leonard’s caliber force his way out made the 2017-18 season a headache for fans.
The drama has dissipated since the start of this season because of DeRozan’s levelheaded demeanor and professionalism. DeRozan has not been perfect for San Antonio – his shot selection can be frustrating, and he can oftentimes blend in with the rest of the team during difficult times. With that said, DeRozan is largely responsible for much the team’s success this season while providing a voice of reason to San Antonio’s locker room.
Fans have to admire DeRozan for handling his trade so well, even in the face of emotional and mental turmoil. The 29-year-old is averaging career-best averages in rebounds and assists while shooting the fourth best field goal percentage of his career.
Hats off to DeMar for seamlessly integrating himself within Spurs culture.
Next: Adding some Flare
Adding some Flare
In what feels like the first time in many years, the Spurs are throwing down some explosive jams this season. That’s the natural result of combining Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan but some unlikely candidates have gotten loose for huge plays this year. Center Jakob Poeltl has attacked the rim with force out of the pick and roll while LaMarcus Aldridge has provided some of the best moments of his career in San Antonio.
Methodical basketball has become exciting for Spurs fans because of franchise’s success. Whether it be a string of swift passes, a solid defensive possession or a contested mid-range jumper, San Antonio is accustomed to this specific brand of basketball. While effective in nature, this play style has at times limited the potential for explosive plays.
This year’s squad threw that concept out of the window with a core that attacks the basket hard and thrives off of energy. One thing that’s stood out about this year’s core is the intensity with which players cut to the basket. Off-ball motion is key to the team’s success on both ends of the floor, but this year’s personnel is better equipped to slam down a dunk or two.
Three-point shooting has also been fast and furious for this year’s team. With players such as Davis Bertans and Marco Belinelli spotting up from deep, the Spurs have done an excellent job of hitting treys regardless of range. They’ve also taken advantage of the Freedom of Movement rules that were implemented this season, cashing in on threes through contact for spontaneous four-point plays.
Say what you want about the defense of this year’s squad, but it’s hard to deny that their entertainment values has gone through the roof.
Next: A lovely core of passionate scrappers
A lovely core of passionate scrappers
There few things as beautiful as a team willing to sacrifice their bodies to fight for their team. The win column may not reflect it when considering previous seasons, but the San Antonio Spurs are giving their all this year. The perfect embodiment of this within the Spurs system has been Bryn Forbes, whose constant effort has earned him a starting role for the team that drafted him.
Forbes doesn’t have the physical tools to guard most of the players he faces. It’s not hard to beat him on the drive or lose him with a chain of dribble moves, but Forbes uses his quick feet to apply pressure to opposing ball handlers. Sparty has taken a noticeable leap in his third year and has gained Gregg Popovich’s trust with his effort.
This applies across the board with this year’s unit. Even when things aren’t going their way, the Spurs always manage to give their best effort regardless of the final score. This team deploys lineups with a collective chip on their shoulders. Consider small forward Rudy Gay, whose Achilles injury in Sacramento was supposed to derail his career.
The keyword here is supposed to.
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Gay is hanging on the edge of the elusive 50/40/90 club this season with insane shooting splits. The veteran is hitting 51.9 percent of his field goal attempts and a career-best 43.5 percent from behind the arc.
He’s also been consistent from the charity stripe, hitting 86 percent of his free throws en route to a player efficiency rating of 18.3.
Rudy plays hard every time down the floor. He’s established himself as an improved on-ball defender by using his length and strength to isolate his matchup and force them into contested shots. This is a strong representation of the Spurs’ effort as a whole. For the first time in a long time, the Spurs can be considered underdogs – a title that they’ve embraced wholly.
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San Antonio’s love for the game shines through in every matchup they face.