The circumstances in which the San Antonio Spurs had to perform under in Game 3 were abnormal.
An organization that is built around the collective and prospers on the aspect of togetherness lost one of their own in the midst of battle.
But life isn’t fair. As one of my favorite television shows put it recently, “Terrible things happen. Terrible, wonderful, devastating things happen…who the hell are you to know why?”
So while San Antonio and the entire ‘Spurs Family,’ as the organization emphasizes, grieved with head coach Gregg Popovich on the loss of his wife, Erin, basketball still had to be played between these two teams on Thursday night.
Judging this team’s performance after being wrecked by a tragedy is unfair, but there are other things that pinpoint just how irregular the playoffs, and overall this season, has been for the Spurs.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 3: Throughout this entire series the Spurs only have one player on their roster that has hit three or more 3-pointers: Patty Mills. Here are other players that have hit three or more 3-pointers in the NBA Playoffs so far:
- Rajon Rondo (career 30.6 percent 3-point shooter)
- Derrick Rose (career 29.6 percent 3-point shooter)
- Justise Winslow (career 31.4 percent 3-point shooter)
- 8: Since the inception of the 3-point line only eight teams in NBA history have attempted 50 or more 3-pointers in the playoffs, while connecting on less than 25 percent of them. The 2017-18 San Antonio Spurs are one of those eight, and the first team to accomplish this feat since the 2007-08 Denver Nuggets, who were swept in the first round.
- 16: Most likely inspired by adversity, Tony Parker lit the Warriors up for 16 points in just 17 minutes. The scoring outburst was his third highest of the season and best scoring performance since scoring 23 points against the Grizzlies on March 5th.
Not only are the Spurs shooting a league-low 24.1 percent from beyond the arc in the playoffs, they’re not even making wide open shots.
In this series, the Spurs are shooting a paltry 54-of-141 (38.3 percent) on uncontested field goals against the Warriors.
But the uncontested shots the Spurs are getting aren’t rushed or being attempted by poor shooters, and the misses aren’t entirely off target either.
As our own Paul Garcia mentioned on the most recent episode of The Spurscast, a lot of the Spurs are throwing up is falling short, which could signal a roster full of tired legs.
It’s been an issue since March. Guys who aren’t used to playing heavy minutes throughout an entire season are forced to compensate for the numerous injuries this roster has suffered, which resulted in the Spurs shooting spiraling downward as the season progresses.
There’s also the issue of Spurs acting head coach Ettore Messina not necessarily keeping shooters on the floor, which was Popovich’s biggest adjustment from Game 1 to Game 2.
Messina’s rotation was more akin to what San Antonio did during the regular season than what kept the team competitive during Game 2. For example, Davis Bertans logged 25 minutes in Game 2 despite his poor shooting, but only played 20 minutes in Game 3. Half of those minutes were in the fourth quarter after the game was already decided.
The result of playing non-shooters? Well…
GAME 4 ADJUSTMENTSLOOKING AHEAD
As mentioned on prior episodes of The Spurscast, there isn’t much this team can do adjustment wise.
The roster as currently constructed is limited in skill and talent without a certain All-Star small forward. If shots aren’t going to fall, Sunday afternoon is going to be brief and the Spurs will end their season on a whimper.
That being said, it’s only the beginning of an exciting (depending on how you look at it) summer for the Spurs.
But most importantly, an end to this series allows the Spurs family to properly grieve with Popovich in his time of need. Pop may not want the attention on him, but this team is clearly not the same mentally with their fearless leader in pain.
This team has exhausted itself to be competitive since mid-October, and that’s a true testament to the Spurs will and way.