On the day after Election Day, let it be stated that the Spurs early season returns are promising.
After all, this is a Spurs start of Star Trek proportions.
As in, this Spurs team is boldly going where no Spurs team has gone before.
How could it be the Silver & Black attack has never jumped out to a 4-0 start over four decades of balling in San Antonio? How is that even possible considering all the 50+ win teams the Spurs have racked up over the years?
32 playoff runs. 18 division crowns. 4 NBA titles. And now, one 4-0 start in team history.
“I’m surprised we’re still doing records,” Tony Parker told the media after the SA’s 101-79 win over the Pacers Monday night. “It seems like we did everything, but that’s another one. That’s great.”
“At this point we are enjoying it,” Manu Ginobili added. “It’s curious that a team this successful hasn’t started that well before.”
No matter. Manu also said something else that’s rings true.
“Not that it’s important in the long term”.
Except for this: in the chase for the #1 seed in the West, early game wins put the Spurs ahead in early voting. In fact, the last unbeaten team in the Western Conference.
So, the more wins SA puts in the bank, the better.
For a team like SA, that can matter down the stretch. Especially if there’s a race at season’s end for home court advantage in the playoffs.
So to start the year with wins over the Hornets, Thunder, Jazz and Pacers is good enough in itself. It’s even better when others around the league are taking a loss or two.
Or stumble out 0-3 like the new look Lakers did.
The cherry on top of the 4-0 sundae start for the Spurs is clearly the home opening win vs. Oklahoma City, and not only due to the dramatics of Parker’s buzzer beating shot. Russell Westbrook must have followed a Silver Dancer instead of TP9 off a screen, leaving Tony solo for his game winning jumper.
Add to that the fact that the Spurs are now 2-0 in their “Artsy Gray” alternate jersey. Those things matter sometimes, too.
But what matters more is that this is not last summer’s Thunder team. Still noisy Kevin Durant and Westbrook. Much less hairy to handle. That’s thanks to former Spurs staffer and current Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti trading James Harden and his trademark beard to SA’s division-rival Rockets.
Houston, you have a beard. OKC, you’re the ones with a problem.
That one trade alone sent seismic shifts in the balance of Western Conference power. Where the conventional wisdom ranked the Lakers and the Thunder as top dogs in the West, with the another-year-older Spurs yapping right at their heels.
Now Harden to Houston changes everything. Changes the makeup and the chemistry of an OKC team that was two wins away from NBA title glory just a few months ago.
Now? It’s the start of a process to integrate Kevin Martin’s skill set and re-establish a new identity. One with much less swag, at least now. And facial hair.
The Lakers limped out to their 0-3 start that had people going to GoDaddy.com to set up FireMikeBrown.com websites. LA’s also limping due to Steve Nash’s 40-year old fractured shin.
And how long will it be before Dwight Howard’s back goes “Twinge” in the night?
So one week into the long and winding 82-game regular season road, there’s a lot of reasons for Gregg Popovich to smile. Although we all know he probably won’t. Not if there’s a 1st or 3rd quarter on-court interview with David Aldridge lurking.
But Tim Duncan’s spring in his preseason step has sprung another well in the Fountain of Youth. Duncan is lean, is running the floor with ease, and is once again defending at the rim.
Just ask Kevin Durant, who probably still can’t believe Timmy swatted away KD’s breakaway fast break drive last week.
Wednesday night the Spurs-ship Enterprise sets its course west to start a four game road trip against the Clippers in Los Angeles. That’s followed up with stops in Sacramento, Portland, then back to Staples Center for their first look at Kobe Bryant’s new Laker pals.
The Spurs can’t really start 8-0, can they? Chris Paul and the Clips could put a stop to that chatter in a hurry. The back-to-back with the Kings and Blazers looks tailor made for Pop to sit at least Duncan, if not Manu as well in one or the other.
But what if the Spurs handle the Clips in their joint? If the Spurs don’t sit the Big 3? How much swagger does a 7-0 start carry when facing Kobe, Howard and maybe Nash?
And imagine if the Spurs come home from the western swing with a stellar 8-0 mark?
Like they say on Election Night, a big early voting lead can sometimes be hard to overcome.
That’s pretty bold stuff. Even for grizzled space explorers like Captain James T. Popovich, Mr. Timmy Spock and Dr. “Bones” Ginobili.