Blog Entry

Did the Spurs peak too early?

Posted on: March 22, 2011 1:54 am
Tim Duncan is out for a while, but is that the least of the Spurs' problems? 
Posted by Matt Moore

It seems like everything's fine in Spurs World. Sure there were a few losses to the Heat and Lakers, but they've been blasting teams just the same. They're going to finish with well over 60 wins. They blasted the Warriors into smithereens on Monday night by 15. All's well with San Antonio, and it's just a matter of resting up and getting ready for the playoffs. 

Yeah, about that. 

Let's start with the news that Tim Duncan will be out for a "while" according to the always-effusive Gregg Popovich after spraining his ankle. X-rays were negative for Duncan's ankle but the fact remains that the Spurs will be finishing the season, save possibly a handful of games with their Hall-of-Fame power forward. Then all they have to do is get his conditioning back to NBA-level, re-establish chemistry and rotations that might have shifted with him out and hope that he doesn't suffer any more trouble in a 34-year-old body that's played 1,745 games in its career. 

But that's not the real issue. Duncan's had physical problems before, nearly every season. The real question is whether this Spurs team peaked too early. 

The winner of the NBA championship is rarely the best team the entire season. It is often times the team that was the best, consistently, throughout the course of the season. But there are peaks and valleys. The Lakers and Celtics both struggled in the second half of last season. We're not talking "didn't look like world-beaters." We're talking "didn't look like Bobcat-beaters." But they always do find their groove at the right time, which is, you know, the playoffs. Otherwise they wouldn't be champions. The Celtics managed to instantly manifest themselves as contenders in the playoffs. The Lakers showed late-season signs of life before rolling over the West on their way to the title. The Spurs? They looked nigh-on unbeatable in December, but as the season progresses, they seem to be limping to the start of the second season. And I'm not just talking Duncan's ankle. 

For example, the Spurs have been 24-12 this season against playoff teams. But they are just 5-5 in their last 10 games against playoff teams. In their last eight games against playoff teams, they have a negative efficiency differential (they are being outscored by their playoff opponents per 100 possessions). Perhaps you're thinking that's just the result of the 110-80 loss to the Heat. But in reality, in those last eight playoff matchups, they had a negative efficiency differential in four of the contest. When they were successful, they outscored their opponents by 12.6 points per 100 possessions. When they were not, they were outscored by 19.7 points. Here, try this one. Let's throw out both Heat games, one a dominant Spurs laugher and the other an embarrassing Heat blowout. The result is that in their last six games against playoff opponents non-Heat, when they win, they outscore the other team by 6.1 points per 100 possessions. When they lose, they are beaten by 15.5 points per 100 points. 

But those are just numbers, really. They can be spun anyway, and who cares if the Spurs haven't been dominant in what is customarily a coasting period. But the same concerns are present in their play. The Spurs have taken their high-octane offense, good-not-elite defense approach as far as they can, and now have to become something else. Instantly. A team which features George Hill, still relatively inexperienced, and DeJuan Blair often starting and Matt Bonner as their fourth big in the rotation has to become a defensive stalwart. This team is often spoken of as if it resembles those championship teams, but the makeup is wholly different outside of Duncan, Popovich, Ginobili and Parker. The core is the same, sure, but one of the central structures of those teams was a series of veteran wing defenders. Those wing defenders have been replaced by a core of bigs including Bonner, the aging aged Antonio McDyess, and the inexperienced Tiago Splitter, still working his way into the rotation.

The Spurs are obviously a contender for the NBA championship. You can't win that many games and not be one. But at some point, the question has to be raised whether they peaked sometime in the NBA's hidden months or whether they have that extra gear that defines championship teams. It would be some sort of bizarre twist of fate if the best regular season team of the Popovich era was also unprepared for the postseason. That would be interesting, humorous, and it is definitely not something you want to bet on. But the question is there. 

Since: Jul 26, 2009
Posted on: April 6, 2011 2:55 pm

Did the Spurs peak too early?


While I agree with you to a point that they are resting players along with the Lakers and the other older teams that in of itself is an issue. The Spurs are getting older and showing wear and tear. I still feel (even though the Blazers were balsed by the Warriors last night) that the Blazers match up well against the Spurs and can take them in a 7 game series. The Blazers are physical, young, hungry and have the fire power to run them out of the gym. Now by no means am I saying they will win this series or the goto the NBA finals. But in a 7 game series asside from the Lakers who are in the Blazer's head, The Blazers match up well and can beat any of the playoff teams in the Western Conference. If the Blazers meat the Spurs and it goes 7 games the fact that the Blazers have the young legs and are relatively healthy will play right into who wins the series. I honestly don't think that Duncan or any of the other broken down Vets the Spurs have on their team will be able to play every game in the Playoffs. No issue if the yprove me wrong as long as its not against the Blazers. I prefer anyone to win other than the Lakers.

Since: May 29, 2007
Posted on: March 31, 2011 10:44 am

Did the Spurs peak too early?

Great stuff Merrien,


As we both know the Blazers did beat the Spurs twice since your last posting so go ahead and crown them...  :)  I know it means nothing and so should you.  The Spurs are in coast mode and the old guys are going to get lots of rest before the playoffs start.  One of the nice things about being a veteran (old) is that you don't need to prepare for the playoffs or go in hot and streaking.  You've been there for 14 years you know what the playoffs are all about so I don't see Tim and maybe not even Ginobilli playing until the real games start.  The nice thing is that the younger guys that do need to ramp up and get in rhythm are playing and Hill isn't looking to bad scoring 30 and 27 points in the past week along with good assist numbers.  Also, Splitter is only going to get better as he gets more playing time.  There are a couple of guys that are slacking right now like Blair and Bonner but, I see them as pressure guys and see Blair turning up the tenacity if nothing else.  It's hard to keep your focus especially for the younger guys when the coach and veterans take their foot off the gas.  Let me tell you though the guys that are playing hard now will see more playing time come playoffs.


Let me tell you though Memphis is right on the Blazers trail and you may get your wish and get this supposed better matchup with the past their prime Spurs.  You'd also be the only one because as well as the Blazers are playing you don't want the best team in the league in the first round that's just silly...  The Spurs are from TX but, they aren't the Mavs...  LOL

Since: Jul 26, 2009
Posted on: March 26, 2011 5:42 am

Did the Spurs peak too early?

Wooooooooo! Go Blazers. They didn't play their best game but they got them The_Eman! What a finish!!! Go Blazers. Hopefully take he Spurs Monday as well.

Since: Jul 26, 2009
Posted on: March 24, 2011 1:56 pm

Did the Spurs peak too early?

Hi The E-Man, nice to meet you and I'm always up for a good debate.

I respect what the Spurs have done but they are about to pass their prime. Duncan (all the respect in the world for the guy) is not an Allstar, he got in on a sympathy/name recognition/longevity vote. If you watched the game earlier in Portland when they had Duncan in the line up, they had no chance. Portland won 99-86 but this should have been much worse. They are slow compared to the Blazers, they are small compared to the Blazers and LaManimal dominated Duncan. Duncan had no chance. Now Duncan of 5 years ago is another story and Aldridge is just now breaking out. But at this time and place Aldridge is the much better player (Yes he was a snub for the Allstar game). Portland is more physical than the Spurs. Oh and I forgot to mention, we picked up a small aquisition at the teade deadline, Gerald Wallace. Wallace has changed the whole make up of the team. The team plays more physical and with more intensity. He has made a huge difference. And now he is starting to figure out the offence and learning how each of Portland's players plays, the chemestry is getting better. I'm not saying Portland wins it all this year but they do present match up issues for a lot of teams. If they could get the lakers out of their heads they would be in good shape. They blew the last 2 against the Lakers (in my opinion the team to beat for all of it this year, yes it pains me to say this). But as far as matchups for Portland, I would take the Spurs in a heart beat along with Dallas in the 1st round. I don't think Portland will make it past Denver to the 5 spot as nt enough time and a brutal schedule coming up, but they match up well with Oklahoma City as well. Portland has a good chance to finally get out of the 1st round this year and I'm sure most of the playoff teams don't want to see them in the 1st round. At any rate the best part about this is they play the Spurs this Friday and I have a chance to eat my words. In fact they have them 2 times within a few days. I say the Blazers will win on Friday and have a good chance Monday in San Antonio as they play Oklahoma City the night before. The Blazers have been tearing it up in back to backs and took care of Orlando and Miami on the last road trip. At any rate the Spurs will be in for 2 tough games going down the stretch with the Blazers and could very well be a preview of what is to come in the playoffs for this old broken down team. Over and out!

Since: May 29, 2007
Posted on: March 22, 2011 7:07 pm

Did the Spurs peak too early?



My deepest apologies if I offended you with my comment.  I was not trying to intentionally trash the Celtics when I stated the Bulls would roll the east.


On the contrary, I would love the Celtics come out of the east to play the Spurs in the Finals.  I like the pace of the Celtics far better than the Bulls and would love to see Duncan and Garnett go at it before they both ride off into the sunset.  Not to mention Rondo vs. Parker, Ginobilli vs. Pierce, even Allen vs. Jefferson.  There are some great potential matchups and I don't see how it wouldn't be good for the NBA.  Best of luck to you and the Celtics.


Go Spurs Go!!!

Since: Oct 23, 2006
Posted on: March 22, 2011 6:43 pm

Did the Spurs peak too early?

Peaking too early?

The Spurs are 11-3 since the allstar break with their healthy roster.

How many teams have fared better since the break?  I am guessing not that many.

They essentially clinched everything and yet they are still winning at a pretty respectable pace in what is the "coasting" phase.

The Spurs have been fine.  The Lakers are red hot and capturing the attention well deserved.

However that does not mean the Spurs have suddenly went ice cold.  It just means LA is red hot.


They might tread water while Duncan is out.  they might lose 6 of the last 12 without him.  I have no idea what they do with these essentially meaningless game.

But that is not some symptom of peaking too early.  It is merely an injury to a starter.

Since: Mar 6, 2008
Posted on: March 22, 2011 5:21 pm

Did the Spurs peak too early?

You serious: The Eman: Bulls are going to steamroll the East,Not likely, the games will be very close and on the road, The Celts have a deffinite edge, also Im not sold on Boozer, able to compete in the paint with KG and Big Daddy. No team of the big 3: Celtics, Bulls, Magic are dominate this season, both Bulls and Celtics have difficult games ahead entering the playoffs. I also believe addition of Murphy to Celts lineup is huge, Bulls will be drawn from paint due his ability to shoot long range. Of course Perkins big body will be missed, but Celtics additions of Green and Murphy will pay big dividends, before playoff ends. Go Big Green!!!

Since: Sep 27, 2006
Posted on: March 22, 2011 4:07 pm

Did the Spurs peak too early?

Who the hell is this guy? Where did he come from? Is he Charles Barkley's prodige? Did CBS hire him to try and rip on the Spurs? The Spurs have been far and away the best team in the league as well as being the most consistent. They are 11-3 in their last 14. This guy makes it out as if they are 3-11. Go write on a Lakers fansite if you wanna just bash the Spurs. Tool.

Since: May 29, 2007
Posted on: March 22, 2011 3:45 pm

Did the Spurs peak too early?

LMAO Merrien!!
The Spurs have been old for like 10 years for all you haters out there.  They have a couple of guys that are old but, they also have a lot of young guys that are stepping up and contributing every night.  When they're on fire call the fire deptment, the arena may burn down before the nights over!  Duncan is still an All-Star and Ginobilli has a playoff gear, you know this, man.  Parker is quietly one of the best point gaurds in the league.  He never has a bad season or slumps during the year, he's consistant and so are the Spurs.  They are healthy this year compared to years past, aside from Duncan getting banged up yesterday, and they're hungry.  Keep hating the Spurs talk with their actions not their mouths!
You really want your Blazers playing the Spurs in the first round?  No one wants to play the Spurs in the playoffs.  They're a vetern (old) team that has the hardware to prove they know what the playoffs are all about.
Go Spurs Go!!!

Since: Jul 26, 2009
Posted on: March 22, 2011 3:21 pm

Did the Spurs peak too early?

No the Spurs didn't peak too early, the season is too long and the Spurs are getting too old. Duncan is not the player he used to be and the rest of the supporting cast is getting older and worn down as well. I really don't see them getting past the Lakers and really hope the Blazers drop to 8 so they can see the Spurs in the 1st round as this is a very favorable match up. The Spurs were a good team but father time has caught up with them.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or