Led by Wolf Man Gregg Popovich, the Spurs Are Playing Scary Basketball

Jon CavanaughContributor IJanuary 21, 2009

After a rocky start, the San Antonio Spurs have clawed their way towards the top of the Western Conference, posting a 28-13 record, second in the West to the Los Angeles Lakers, who are 32-8.

Let's face it, the Spurs are playing scary basketball right now, perhaps taking a cue from their coach’s new look. Is it just me or does Gregg Popovich bear an eerie resemblance to the Wolf Man?

Perhaps the Spurs have taken a cue from their leader and used defense to claw and bite their way to the top of the standings, after starting the season missing stars Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili due to injury. 

The Spurs stumbled to a horror movie-like start, losing four of their first five games.  They are 22-8 since Ginobili and Parker returned to the lineup. The Spurs used a fearsome defense to hold serve without their injured stars, and have kept it up.

As the mid-season mark is approaching, they are sitting pretty. The question remains, however: Do they have what it takes to make another title run?

San Antonio will be a force to be reckoned with and a worthy adversary come playoff time, but have the Spurs taken the necessary steps to take it all the way to an amazing fifth NBA title?

I guess time will tell, but I think they can challenge the Lakers and other young teams in the division, such as the Blazers, Hornets, Rockets, Jazz, and the resurgent Nuggets

During the off-season, I think the biggest question marks were youth and health. I don’t think anyone would doubt that the Spurs are an elite team with Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili healthy, but what about the supporting cast?

The knock on the Spurs is that they were too old and needed to inject some young talent to go along with the big three. Sure, Tim Duncan is only 32 years old, but hasn’t he lost a step, and don’t the other key role players look like they are headed to a retirement community in the off-season?

Spurs fans hope George Hill and Roger Mason are the answers. Hill has been a pleasant surprise since being picked 26th overall in the draft from Summit Conference powerhouse IUPUI. Hill is averaging 7.5 points and 18 minutes a game. 

Roger Mason has been the most pleasant surprise for fans, averaging just over 30 mpg, 12 ppg, and shooting .464 percent from three-point land. His biggest contribution is his amazing big shot ability.

Not much was expected of this free agent acquisition, who has thrilled the Spurs faithful with his game winning shots. Could it be the Spurs have found a capable replacement to fill Robert Horry’s shoes? “Big shot Roger” perhaps?

Mason drilled a game-winning shot to down the Suns on Christmas Day and another stunning game winner against the mighty Lakers on Jan. 14. It is his big shot ability and ice cold mentality that has Spurs fans salivating and fans of opposing teams scratching their heads and wondering, “Where do they get these guys?"

I believe that the addition of this new blood and a healthy Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili will be enough to propel the Spurs to another conference championship appearance and possibly a berth in the NBA finals.

I doubt the Spurs will be a big player in the free agent market or trade scene; the NBA trade deadline of Feb. 19 is fast approaching. I look for them to make no waves at the deadline, perhaps a small ripple.

They could use another young player capable of slashing and splitting defenses, but I don’t expect them to make such a move. Choosing to go to war with their current roster instead.

The pesky Spurs will be there at the end, much to the chagrin of opposing fans and Spurs' haters. They again will rely on tough defense and become a general nuisance, pest, and thorn in the side of any team that crosses their path.

Their new blood will play well, Duncan will be himself, Parker and Ginobili will impress, Finley will add key minutes and shots, and Bruce Bowen will harass, disturb, and foul other players, making supporters of opposing teams hurl inanimate objects at their new HDTV sets in an uncontrollable rage. 

A healthy Spurs team at playoff time will be a scary one indeed, as scary as the Wolf Man himself.