We’ve seen some prominent members of the San Antonio Spurs lose their cool as of late, that cannot continue deeper into the playoffs.
Amongst many other things, the San Antonio Spurs have built dynastic success by remaining composed. The Big Three era was headlined by a gentle giant in superstar Tim Duncan, whose ability to save face in spite of adversity was quizzical to those outside of the organization. He rarely argued with referees but did so in a respectful manner when it was appropriate.
Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, while fiery in nature, also carried themselves in a distinguished fashion. This was a part of San Antonio’s structure – they were an embodiment of professionalism in the NBA. Even when games swung out of their favor, the leaders knew to show their teammates how to act instead of telling them. They led by example and won four championships together as a result.
Ejections and technical fouls are much easier to come by in this era of the NBA, but that doesn’t mean the current-day Spurs can’t avoid them. Game 4’s second-half meltdown came to a head along with the brewing frustration between star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan and the league’s referees. After a questionable foul call, DeRozan chucked the ball in the general direction of referee Scott Foster, resulting in an ejection and $25,000 fine for the disgruntled All-Star.
DeMar DeRozan was ejected late in Nuggets-Spurs Game 4 for tossing the ball at the official ? pic.twitter.com/qXo8NLhJ3Q
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 21, 2019
There’s no masking it – NBA Refs have been especially volatile over recent weeks. Frustrations between the players and referees have been boiling for years now, meaning ejections are coming more loosely than ever before. There have been six ejections in the NBA Playoffs through the first round compared to three in all of the 2018 postseason.
The nature of DeMar DeRozan’s success is largely attributed to prolific ability to drive to the basket. In the regular season, the slashing savant totaled the second most drives to the basket in the NBA with 1,439. This resulted in just 229 free throw attempts, which is an average of three attempts per game. Despite being adept in the art of drawing fouls, DeRozan averaged less free throw attempts off the drive than both Zach LaVine and Spencer Dinwiddie, who drove to the basket a considerable amount less than DeRozan did.
He has reason to be upset with his free throw attempts. Freedom of movement regulations have made the game much easier for three-point specialists to draw fouls while his primary style of play has been left in the dust. That doesn’t mean that DeRozan can let his emotions get the best of him, especially in the playoffs.
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His professionalism in San Antonio has been top notch, especially when considering the emotional turmoil that the trade from Toronto caused for him. DeRozan has put his ego aside and bought into the system of coaching and camaraderie that’s sustained a winning culture in San Antonio. Now is the time for him to lead by example and set the tone for his teammates by keeping a level head.
The same goes for franchise mastermind Gregg Popovich.
It’s well-documented that the 69-year-old has a low tolerance for incompetence. His temper flares when things go wrong and his enthusiasm can come off as aggression, but Pop’s primary focus is and always will be on his team’s success.
Telling Gregg Popovich to censor himself is like telling a dog not to bark at the mailman, you’re not going to have much control over that situation in the heat of the moment.
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With that said, this team desperately needs Popovich to maintain his composure and set the tone for his players. If they can remain leveled through these final three games, the Spurs can advance to the second round.