Top 10 Highlights from San Antonio Spurs' First Quarter of the Season
The San Antonio Spurs are habitually labeled as "boring" due to their fundamental focus every year. However, they have managed to remain one of the best teams in the league, despite this approach, and while many fans may frown upon, others welcome it.
While they may not be the Los Angeles Clippers or the Miami Heat, the Spurs have managed to put on quite a show thus far into the season, delivering their fair share of highlight-worthy plays as the first quarter comes to a close.
For the first time in a while, the veteran team is being recognized from the start as a legitimate contender, and as more and more basketball fans watch them play, many have changed their minds about whether or not the Spurs lack excitement.
So, determine for yourself whether or not they are boring. Although, after watching these next few plays, you may be forced to change your mind.
Honorable Mention: Manu Ginobili's Crafty Pass
At first, this beautiful pass may seem fairly average for Manu Ginobili, who is known for being tricky and cunning with his passing and ball-handling.
However, the replay shows that not only did Ginobili put the ball in the only possible spot in order for it to reach its intended destination, but that spot was between the defender's legs.
Luckily, Ginobili is one of the craftiest distributors in the league and made the assist look easy, finding Tiago Splitter for the easy two points.
10. Passing, Passing and More Passing
The San Antonio Spurs are known for being fundamentally sound, so it shouldn't be a surprise that they lead the league in assists per game.
From their guards to their big men, few players on the roster struggle when distributing, and the above highlight captures their passing dynamic quite well.
Whether it be a crafty pass from French rookie, Nando De Colo or a "draw-and-dish" from Tiago Splitter or James Anderson, the Spurs' ball movement is flawless at times, and their efforts are rewarded here after Matt Bonner sinks an open look from long range.
9. Ginobili with the Clutch Three
Down three with just over a minute to go, Gary Neal forces a jumper with the hopes to cut the Memphis Grizzlies' lead to just one. The attempt is off, but an offensive rebound from Tony Parker keeps it alive.
With the game on the line, a nifty behind-the-back pass gives Manu Ginobili the opportunity to tie the game up. He sinks the long ball, keeping San Antonio's victory hopes alive.
The sequence itself was only average, but the circumstances give it a reason to appear on the list. The three-pointer eventually forced the game into overtime, where the Spurs pulled through with a win.
8. Red Rocket Blasts off
The dunk itself is only average, and had the enforcer been an young, athletic star, few would have even blinked. However, the "dunker" was the notoriously unathletic Matt Bonner, who often appears uncomfortable when not situated beyond the arc.
Here, he takes advantage of the open lane and slams down the dunk with force, holding onto the rim for added effect. The play was later named the Play of the Game, even though in reality it was average.
The parody of the situation was enough to draw a laugh from the bench—particularly Tim Duncan. (Don't tell Joey Crawford!).
He did slam it down with force, but the fact that Matt Bonner was the subject of the highlight makes it that much more impressive.
7. Nando De Colo Drops the Dime
Nando De Colo was dubbed "Mini-Manu" earlier this season by Gregg Popovich, and rightfully so. Like the veteran, De Colo has established himself as one of the team's most elite and entertaining passers and overall players.
As he continues to increase his role in the offense, De Colo will likely perform multiple jaw-dropping plays before the season's end.
Whether or not he lives up to Ginobili's talent is another story, but from a pure excitement perspective, De Colo is already a fan favorite.
6. Tony Parker Turns on the Spin Cycle
He may have just finished with a simple layup, but the way he shook away the defenders is truly remarkable.
Tony Parker is no stranger to the spin move and has been perfecting it since entering the league in 2001. As one of the quickest point guards in the league, when he unleashes it, the move is deadly.
Here, he uses is not only to evade one defender but to split a pair and find an open lane to the basket. He switched directions in the matter of seconds and completed it with the lay-in for what is easily one of his nicest spin moves ever.
5. Tim Duncan Slams It Down over Marc Gasol
It's hard to imagine Tim Duncan not liking someone—other than Kevin Garnett, that is—but after powering down a monstrous slam and then growling and glaring at Marc Gasol, you have to wonder whether there is some existing tension in that matchup.
After all, Gasol was a key factor in the 2011 playoffs when the Grizzlies upset the Spurs in the first round, and Duncan may still not have gotten over the loss.
However, while Memphis may have emerged victorious two years ago, Duncan certainly left his mark with this slam, as he continues to prove that age is really just a number.
4. Tony Parker's Game-Winner vs. OKC
Okay, okay. The shot itself was only average, and there really was nothing difficult about this play.
However, the shot itself could have been a simple layup and it still would have found its way onto the highlight reel.
After dropping four straight games to the Oklahoma City Thunder last year, the Spurs hosted the Thunder for their home opener, barely beating their conference rivals.
With seconds remaining, a cleverly drawn up play resulted in an open jump shot for Tony Parker who knocked it down as time expired. It may not have been a circus shot, but the buzzer-beater was a nice way to start off a regular season series against the team that sent you home months earlier.
3. James Anderson Rejects Mike Miller
After Gary Neal commits a turnover, Mike Miller appears to have an open fast-break layup.
Well, James Anderson thought differently.
The 6'6'' guard, who is in his second stint with the Spurs, exhibited unprecedented hustle to catch Miller at the rim and deliver a basket-saving block.
Not only did he prevent the score, but he did so while making a statement—rejecting the ball with force in a game that many figured was a lost cause.
He may not have a consistent role on the team, but he certainly left an impression during his time on the court, here.
2. Manu Ginobili Burns Defenders
While you attempt to lift your jaw from the floor, I'll break down what just occurred.
1. Manu Ginobili steals the pass and prepares to lead a fast break down the court.
2. Without hesitating, he puts the ball through DeMar DeRozan's legs and continues charging towards the basket, eyeing a score.
3. After being met by a set of defenders, Ginobili attempts a Euro-step but cannot free himself from the tangle of defenders.
4. Finally, the magician completes a circus shot while getting fouled, sending him to the line where he would complete the and-one.
Out of the ordinary for Ginobili? Not at all.
Food for thought: The play was completely illegal. Once he steps out of bounds around DeRozan, he cannot be the first player to touch the ball.
1. Tim Duncan Posterizes Serge Ibaka
In the same game where Tony Parker hit the game-winning jump shot, Tim Duncan left his own mark.
The veteran, Duncan may not be as physically intimidating as he was in his prime, especially not to someone who led the league in blocks by a landslide a year before.
However, it will be a long time before Serge Ibaka can burn this image out of his head.
In the same play, Duncan posterized both Ibaka and Father Time (credit to Jesse Blanchard), marking his official return to greatness.
Age means nothing to the veteran big man, who continues to amaze despite growing weaker and older season after season.