Don't expect games against the San Antonio Spurs to be grind-out, slow-paced affairs any longer. Finally not bogged down by isolation plays and predictable offense, the young team is running and gunning on a nightly basis.
"We want a lot of activity, a lot of pace," said Coach Gregg Popovich on Spurs Media Day before the season. "The pace should be really enjoyable to watch."
So far, the Spurs have been making good on how they wanted to play.
Heading into Monday evening's game against the Indiana Pacers, the Spurs are ranked 5th in the NBA on ESPN's Hollinger Pace Factor at 103.8 possessions per game. Their quick pace also has helped them tie for third in the league in fast break points with 15.8 per game.
The fact that the Spurs are forcing turnovers has been helping them get out in the open court. Forcing 17.7 per game, they're 5th in the league in that regard and 8th in points off those turnovers.
San Antonio is also allowing just 12.7 points off their own turnovers, which is second-best only to the Dallas Mavericks' 12.0 per game.
After a fairly slow pace in the preseason that left me with some concerns, the Spurs are using the open-court game to help out their otherwise mediocre offense. Without a go-to scorer or superstar yet, they'll need every easy basket they can get to keep up with the top talent the NBA has to offer.
On Saturday, the Spurs forced Milwaukee into 19 turnovers while committing just nine of their own. Much of that is attributed to the long arms of Dejounte Murray, who secured three steals in the game and is tied for seventh in the NBA in total deflections with 26. Meanwhile, Derrick White's defense has been just as effective, as shown by his 1.5 steals and 9.8 shot contests per game.
Gregg Popovich knew early on this group needs to get out and run to be successful, and he's banking on them continuing to do so as the season goes on. So far, they're off to a good start.