No Regard

May 28, 2008

The death of a dynasty?

Filed under: NBA — Tags: , , — Andy Vasquez @ 1:12 pm

Can you hear that? No? Well, listen carefully. It’s the sound of the San Antonio Spurs free-falling (flopping and flailing the entire way, of course) toward a messy collision with elimination and uncertainty.

So, look. Look while you can and get one last glimpse of the most consistently-great — yes, great — team of the last decade. Because this time, when the Spurs hit the ground, there’s good reason to believe they’ll never be the same again.

This isn’t about being down 3-1 to the Lakers, or being a prisoner of the moment. This is about looking beyond the moment, and watching a team getting older, while other teams get better.

You probably don’t like the Spurs, and who could blame you?Their style of play is somewhat grating and boring. Their star players all seem to have some sort of fear of charisma, not to mention the remarkable ability to look whiny and appalled every single time a foul is called. But as obnoxious as this team has been, you must respect them if you love this game

. They have been able to perform reliably, under immense pressure for the better part of a decade. In an age when the Western Conference is stronger than it has ever been, the Spurs have been near the top, every year, and come out on top more than anyone else.

But the Spurs’ edge is all but gone, and when the Lakers finish them up this week, it will be gone forever. San Antonio used deception to win, and they can’t do it any more. They just aren’t good enough anymore to fool anyone

The Spurs have been so successful up until now, because they’ve used Duncan as a decoy. I know, Kind of hard to believe Duncan is a decoy, when he’s regarded as one of the great power forwards in NBA history. He can’t be stopped and still gets his 25 and 10.

But when you think about the Spurs when they win, it’s never Duncan with the dagger. It’s Manu Ginobli, or Tony Parker, Robert Horry or in older days, Avery Johnson or Sean Elliot hitting the huge shot. That’s because defenses focus all their effort on stopping Duncan, who can’t be stopped — as we’ve established. Meanwhile, San Antonio’s role players, like Ginobli, or Bruce Bowen or even Horry are allowed to run wild.

But this isn’t working anymore. The problem isn’t that Duncan is getting older. He’s still effective. The problem is that Bowen and Horry are both a shell of their former selves, and teams are starting to figure out Ginobli and Tony Parker. The teams are still covering Duncan and saying, “Hey, you guys beat us.” But the Spurs just can’t do it anymore.

Couple this with the fact that the Spurs are getting older, and comparatively less talented than their opposition. The Lakers are better already, and so are the Hornets. Soon, the Jazz could be, too. These teams are more talented and younger. The lone advantage the Spurs have over these teams is experience, and even that cant see them through any more.

So watch closely over the next few days, because this is it. This is the end of a dominant run.

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