Tuesday, May 28, 2013

And The Beat Goes On (The Spurs Just Win)

The Spurs are like the old men at the Venice Beach courts. You might think you can beat them but somehow, you look up wondering how you lost so bad. One way or another, you fall prey to their mastery.

Better yet, they're like The Whispers and their 1980 classic single "And the Beat Goes On". An old, successful group infused with the production of a young Leon Sylvers that they rode that wave to even greater heights.

The Spurs are back on top. Back in the Finals for the first time in six years. Like they never left. All due to a mix of young folks, old vets, and a proven system led by a coaching genius who plays chess on the court.

Gregg Popovich deserves a ton of credit for his system that has revolved around Tim Duncan for 16 years while transitioning to Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker over the last few decade. They've blended veterans and youth into a mix of depth that keeps plugging away.

They draft like good teams should. Find guys who can contribute right away and integrate them into the Spurs way. It's a reminder of what the Celtics did for years under Red Auerbach as coach and general manager. You come in, you get developed, you focus on your role and you just win.

Parker's Game 4 performance (37 pts, 15-21 shooting, 6 assts) on the road was impressive for the variety he showed. He got to the basket with ease, moved without the ball, killed with his jumper and found guys for open layups. He made mincemeat of All-Defensive Team selections Mike Conley and Tony Allen.

It was watching and being reminded that Parker's only 31 and still in the prime of his career. He's settled in his place as one of the game's best lead guards and every game he proves why he's the engine of the ship.

Yet consider what Duncan has done this postseason too. He outplayed the game's "best" center in Dwight Howard, towered over the smaller Golden State Warriors and finished with dominating Zach Randolph and the Defensive Player of the Year in Marc Gasol. It's as if he hears all the praise for his opponent and goes out to remind everyone why he's worthy in his own way.

San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) drives to the basket as Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) defends, during Game 4 of the Western Conference finals NBA basketball playoff series in Memp

In Year 16, at age 37, Timmy's playing like he was a decade ago when he was a two-time MVP. I know I've praised Kobe's late career surge but what Duncan is doing in Year 16 is just as impressive.

Oh. And if Kawhi Leonard hasn't proven why he's one of the best young players in the league, I don't know what more there is to say. He was the MVP of the series against the Warriors and every time the Spurs needed a play against Memphis he was there. To continue the Whispers' metaphor - he (along with Tiago Splitter and Danny Green) are the Leon Sylvers adding the funk and extra oomph to an already proven system.

I admit that for various reasons, I barely remember the 2003, 2005 and 2007 Finals aside from a few moments. I thought the Spurs were boring but at the same time, I knew they were a machine that kept churning with defense and precision. Now that I can appreciate the Spurs more, I'm happy they learned from their 2011 and 2012 playoff exits and are back in the Finals.

It doesn't matter how it looks to the average eye, the Spurs just win. They've been doing that since 1997 and isn't that what it's about?  To quote Blondie, "Flash is fast, flash is cool" but sometimes, there's beauty in being efficient and the Spurs have proven that once again.

So the beat goes on in San Antonio. Still moving strong, on and on to a date with either Miami or Indiana.

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