With the recent injuries to Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, the San Antonio Spurs have found themselves in an unfamiliar situation: looking from the bottom, up.
To expect the Spurs to cruise on without their best back court teammates is out of line. But we can expect the Spurs to hang around in the Western Conference in their absence, at least long enough to make a playoff run.
The Spurs' mantra for winning has been a solid blend under Coach Gregg Popovich. Go back to each of their title seasons and look at what created winning basketball. It was defense and rebounding.
Sure, Duncan's famed bank shot is pretty. However, what really makes the Spurs tick is dominating the boards and swatting a few shots.
Bruce Bowen does a nice job of hitting the dagger three-pointer from the corner. These Spurs thrive, though, on Bowen's ability to shut down high scoring threats on the opposition.
Manu Ginobili—the always wounded star off the bench—is known for his ability to drive to the hoop without fear. Let's not, however, undervalue his desire to step in front of a speedy guard to take a charge. Or his desire to dive for every loose ball in sight.
These are the elements that made the Spurs champions. Until a 92-80 win over the New York Knicks gave San Antonio their second win of the year, defense was out of the picture. The Spurs thrive on winning ugly. Give me Duncan's rebounding, Ime Udoka and Bruce Bowen's perimeter defense, and some scrappy play from this year's crop of "role players."
Face it, without Ginobili or Parker running the offense, defense is what the Spurs need. It is time for Spurs fans to go back in time and remember the way we used to embrace winning ugly.