I suppose that we can consider this article a follow-up to my previous piece Slight of Hand or Bona Fide Magic? The San Antonio Spurs versus the Golden State Warriors game on March 19, 2016 had many playoff implications in its aftermath. I anticipate a great series unfolding, if they happen to actually meet in the playoffs. These two teams are the epitome of great team-based basketball, that has become absent from the main stay of today’s game.
In my previous article, I shared my thoughts about the game and certain details that I had noticed to be effective against the Warriors. I said, “The absolute first thing I noticed was the fact that the Lakers were rotating well on defense and contesting every shot attempt.” This is exactly what I noticed the Spurs were doing (in the March 19th game). I also said, “They switched all on the ball screens with an emphasis on taking away (Stephen) Curry’s offensive spacing to shoot.” The Spurs added their own twist to it by forcing him to back dribble, thus speeding him up and disrupting the timing of their (Warriors) offense. In the game versus the Lakers, the Warriors shot 13.3% from behind the arch. The Spurs forced them to shoot 25% as a team, but the Splash Brothers were 2-19 combined from 3-point range. Am I beginning to make sense? It has been my opinion, since the beginning of this magical season, that “Golden State has employed a very efficient offensive system that exploits the inadequacies of today’s defensive game.” This does not take away from anything that they have accomplished this year. It is only my unbiased observation based on how teams play today.
Now, with all that said, the game was well played on both ends of the court by both teams. Offensively these teams have many similarities when it comes to ball movement and finding the open shot. There are also certain aspects defensively that they both possess when it comes to playing team oriented defense. The difference is that San Antonio also possesses the ability to beat you offensively, as well as defensively, utilizing their individual talent. The antidote to great-team defense is the ability to expose their opponents individual weaknesses. The same goes for opposing offenses. Force these same players to create offensive opportunities without the help of screens, ball rotation(s), or players cutting towards the basket. This means that the Spurs are not only a well-balanced team of veterans and young talent, but that their play is also well-balanced between team concepts and individual creativity. That kind of balance makes them very dangerous for Golden State (and the rest of the league). The Warriors youth, energy and explosiveness makes them just as dangerous to the Spurs by comparison.
I suppose what I am saying is that I miss these kinds of battles during the playoffs. Those series that could have went either way depending on who came to play today. The Philadelphia 76ers versus the Boston Celtics series’ of the 1980’s, come to mind. I miss Boston versus the Detroit Pistons for supremacy of the Eastern Conference. The 1988 Los Angeles Lakers playoff run that consisted of a seven game series against the Utah Jazz, the Dallas Mavericks, and the Detroit Pistons. These well-battled series spawned legendary players and games such as the Boston Strangler Andrew Tony, the Memorial Day Massacre, pivotal game fours, Beat LA chants, and iconic buzzer beating shots. I believe that we were fortunate enough to have this carry on into the 90’s, however there seems to be a disconnect from that kind of play in today’s game. The playoffs are about raising your game to the next level of play. I wait with great anticipation for this series, as I have grown nostalgic for the play of yesteryear. Good luck to both teams and both fan bases. Peace.