Why the Spurs are still in big trouble

Jan 29, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) looks on during the first half against the Dallas Mavericks at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 29, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) looks on during the first half against the Dallas Mavericks at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports /

You thought Russell Westbrook was the only one man show in the league? I have bad news for San Antonio Spurs fans

First, let me give credit where credit is due. Kawhi Leonard is in fact a machine. Fizdale had his doubts, but I have no doubt he is a robot.

In his six game series against Memphis, Kawhi computed for 31.2 points, six rebounds, and nearly four assists per game while shooting 54.8 percent from the field, 48.3 percent from three, and 96.7 percent from the free throw line (71% true shooting).

That is robotic efficiency.

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In Game 1 (against the Grizzlies), Kawhi set his playoff career-high with 32 points. He followed that up in Game 2 with his playoff career-high of 37. Oh, and in Game 4, Kawhi set his career-high with 43 points in a loss.

But the problem is, he is a one man (machine) wrecking crew. Kawhi is having to produce an enormous work load just so the Spurs have a fighting chance. They can get away with it against a 7th seed, but Houston made it apparent in Game 1, that stuff isn’t going to fly this round.

Let’s take a look under the microscope at who Kawhi has as a surrounding cast, and what their production is looking like in the playoffs.

The Wily Vets

The two most notable wily vets for the Spurs are Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Parker is just about 35 years old and has obviously seen better days, but for an old grandpa, his production this playoffs has been second best on the team.

In the first round against Memphis, he averaged an uncharacteristic (for this season) 16 points per game. He is now out for the remainder of the playoffs with a ruptured quad suffered in Game 2,  though.

This isnt Manu’s first rodeo, but he’s acting like it. In the first four games of the Memphis series, the 39-year-old didn’t record a single basket. He averaged nearly 15 minutes per game, and didn’t score once.

The Spurs, believe it or not, are in a transition period

Pau Gasol is almost 37 years old, and David Lee is 34 years old. This is the oldest team in the league that Kawhi has as a supporting cast, and they’re going up against a young hipster team in the Rockets that adapts to the changing times with their 40 threes per game play style.

Last, and probably least after that Game 1 performance, LaMarcus Aldridge. The man they are playing $84 million dollars to be Tim Duncan’s replacement had one of if not the worst games I have ever seen out of a multi-year All-Star.

Young kids, earmuffs…Pop could only stand to see LaMarcus out on the floor for 25 minutes. In those 25 minutes, Aldridge recorded a -36 with four points, two turnovers, and shot 28 percent from the field.

This cannot happen if the Spurs want to continue to play in this year’s playoffs.

The bottom line is, the San Antonio Spurs, believe it or not, are in a transition period. This is crazy to think about because Pop lead this team in the regular season to a 61-21 record while having a defense ranked 1st in the league (103.5 DEF RTG).

This is a direct correlation to why Gregg Popovich should win Coach of the Year, and how brilliant Kawhi Leonard was all year. The greatness between these two helped mask how badly the Spurs need help everywhere else throughout their roster.

Even though the Spurs bounced back in a huge way in Game 2, there’s still some concerning details.

Parker, the team’s second-best contributor thus far in the playoffs, is now out for the remainder of the season. In Game 2, he recorded 18 points, three boards, four assists, and no turnovers. He was also plus-18 while he was on the floor.

Without him they will now have to depend on Patty Mills (who in Game 1 recorded a minus-20), and a rookie who has seen a whopping 22 minutes of playing time in his entire post season career (Dejounte Murray).

Kawhi was his normal machine self that the Spurs always rely on. He recorded 34 points, seven rebounds, and a career-high eight assists. He had a 93.4 percent true shooting percentage, only missing four shots of any kind. That is nearly 38 minutes of perfection from a cyborg.

The bottom line is this: Houston plays small the majority of the time, while Pop loves to have two bigs on the floor at once. Houston is the fastest paced team in the league, while the Spurs like to slow things down and defend in the half court.

Must Read: The Rockets Crash In Game 2 vs San Antonio

We have two teams who are at opposite ends of the spectrum personnel and play style wise. Whoever controls the pace to their favor will win this series, and it’s hard to see one man do that for seven-straight games. I see this one robot wrecking crew malfunctioning, and the Rockets having their way back in Houston.