Dec 15, 2011, 9:21 AM EDT
Last season: 61-21, best record in the Western Conference. But they struggled against big lineups and so drawing Memphis in the first round was trouble. The Spurs were eliminated fast.
Head Coach: Gregg Popovich, entering his 16th year at the helm of the Spurs. But he remains as cranky as ever.
Key Departures: George Hill, who played well for them off the bench.
Best case scenario: The over-the-hill gang is back for one more run at it — this is a team that wants a ring and the best case scenario is they get it. One more shot at the glory.
For that to happen: They are going to have to get some athletes and get more size of front. The Spurs are going to be very good in the regular season — it is hard to contain Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. And Parker looked very good at the European Championships his past summer. But the Memphis Grizzlies exposed the Spurs — they do not have the size to contain a big lineup. Like Memphis. Or the Lakers.
Maybe Tiago Splitter has a breakout year and maybe DeJuan Blair takes a step forward, but they need more inside play from somewhere to counter the big teams. It can’t just be Tim Duncan (who is still very good but is not Superman).
More likely the Spurs will: Be the more offensive-minded team they were last year, they will be quite good, and they will last in the playoffs until they run into a big roster. May be first round, may be second, but eventually size will wear them down.
I am looking forward to seeing if Kawhi Leonard can give them the athleticism and youth they need in the roster. I’m curious to see how much Pop trusts a rookie on the floor.
The other question out there is how this older team deals with the condensed schedule. They used to rest Tim Duncan on one end of a back-to-back, can they do that this year? How will Popovich deal with the minutes?
Prediction: 44-22 and a nice playoff seed again, but they may will not get out of the first round again.
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