Breaking Down What Makes the San Antonio Spurs Offensive Machine Hum
Six players scored in double figures while two more guys dropped in nine points each, and all that happened while Kawhi Leonard was sitting out with a sore left knee. San Antonio was able to keep its energy high enough to completely dominate this game, all while it was without the guy it relies on to bring the energy.
This team is playing with such an incredible chemistry right now that it's a rare sight to see it have a bad offensive possession, let alone a game in which its incapable of running their style of offense. The question is just what makes its offense as good as it is?
Aside from the complex explanation of San Antonio's incredible ball movement, it seems the biggest weapon it has against other teams is trust. You can see as this team plays that it truly believes each of its teammates is going to make the right decision more often than not.
This Spurs team always seems keen on reading the defense first, then springing into action, but they do it all at such a faster pace than any other team in the league that it can lead to offensive explosions like this.
When the defense starts to collapse, it knows it has guys like Danny Green and Patty Mills lurking outside ready to hit a corner three-pointer.
It's not like they're constantly looking for that shot either. they know where they're most effective, and that's where all teams tend to be most effective, in the paint. San Antonio's offense looks for the most effective shot as close to the hoop as possible, and if the defense is friendly enough, it'll take it. It just so happens that it's got incredible shooters to bail it out if need be.
Normally, it would make sense to give a lot of credit to a team's point guard for running its offense so smoothly, and that's certainly the case with Tony Parker, but its offense is doing so much more than running through the point.
San Antonio's five guys on the floor seem to all be quarterbacks and wide receivers at the same time. Whoever has the ball is incredibly adept at checking all four receivers, starting with whomever it may be that seems to have the best shot for his capabilities, checking down to the three-point line as lanes start to close up. A pass happens, and if there's not a shot to take or a lane to drive into, the process starts all over again.
It doesn't hurt that everybody on this team seems to know the ins and outs of their teammates as well. Manu Ginobili knows Patty Mills can knock down a corner three, Boris Diaw is capable of hitting a cutting Stephen Jackson; even Nando De Colo can find DeJuan Blair when he's matched up against a weaker man in the post.
The Spurs racked up 33 assists against Denver, yet Tony Parker led the team with just six, and nobody who touched the floor left without a dime of his own. That's the mentality of this Spurs team, and when they're all on the same page, which is often, they're going to find holes in the defense.
It's a bit frightening because this is also the way they played defense for so long before Greg Popovich looked at his roster and decided it was more adept for an offensive-heavy game plan.
The old vaunted Spurs defense was set up on a system of helping each other out, hedging when you knew there was a guy behind to stop your man from getting to the rim and rotating cleanly when one man was switched on a pick-and-roll. All they did was switch that incredible team mentality to the other side of the floor.
In a way, it's almost easier for this Spurs team to win now that they're more offensive-oriented. Instead of stopping opponents as they play to their strengths, they get to accentuate their own strengths while daring their opponents to stop everybody they have to throw at them.
It's easy to overlook just how incredibly deep this Spurs team is with a trio of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili to talk about. Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson pair as their fourth and fifth-best players depending on the night, while the likes of Green, Blair, Diaw, Mills, De Colo, Tiago Splitter and Matt Bonner round out the rest of their team.
Every one of those players has a weapon that can be used in a big game, and the Spurs will do whatever they can to get the most out of those players.
It's an era of hero ball and individuals rising above the team, but it seems like this Spurs team is going to stick what they do best, and that's play together and rely on each other.
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