Jeff, a longtime Spurs reporter, discusses Gregg Popovich’s dominant, yet under-appreciated, squad in this exhilarating episode.
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Amid all the talk of a potential third straight Cavaliers-Warriors Finals matchup and a statistically historic MVP race between Russell Westbrook and James Harden, the San Antonio Spurs have quietly continued their dominance, on pace for 64 wins in the first season of the post-Tim Duncan era. Jeff Garcia, lead Spurs writer for News 4 San Antonio and Fox 29 San Antonio, as well as the host of the Locked on Spurs podcast, joins us to explain why the Spurs, as always, are perfectly content to stay below the national radar until the playoffs, and how their quiet, humble star, Kawhi Leonard, embodies that mentality. He also takes us through how, in recent years, the team has been able to transition seamlessly from a slow, grinding offense to the faster-paced, efficient one we’re seeing now. Among additional fascinating topics, Jeff tackles impressive backup point guard Patrick Mills’ impending unrestricted free agency. Particularly, will the Spurs pay to keep Mills in town and/or make him the starter over Tony Parker? Read more for our favorite excerpts from Jeff:
3:31-4:35: Despite their recent success, the Spurs are perennially ignored by the national media. Jeff explains why and if it matters:
“They just get the job done, and that can get boring at times. It’s like they say: ‘death, taxes, and Spurs’…They’re sitting at 32-9. They are a defensive animal. They’re an offensive animal. But yet, overlooked…Does it really matter? Because as long as this team is jiving at the right point [and] is heading into the postseason on the right foot, has a good rhythm, they’re going to get their national media attention, and hopefully that’s going to come late June when they’re hoisting up another trophy.”
Stephen Anderson, second from left, interviewing Manu Ginobili
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While the Warriors are grabbing all the headlines, thanks to a perfect 16-0 start, the reliable San Antonio Spurs are quietly succeeding at a high level on both ends of the court. They are led by 24-year-old phenom and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard, but as with all Gregg Popovich-led Spurs teams over the years, individual accolades are not what it’s about. Stephen Anderson of Project Spurs graciously came on the show to discuss the Spurs’ scalding start, Leonard’s two-way dominance, the addition of LaMarcus Aldridge and plenty more.
Additional highlights include:
11:15-11:35 From an offensive standpoint, Stephen believes that integrating Aldridge will be a process. However, he’s already very impressed with his understanding of the team’s defensive principles: “His defense is a seamless transition for him. We’ve seen him defend. We’ve seen him and Tim Duncan in the paint together, which gives me flashbacks of David Robinson. LaMarcus Aldridge is not like David Robinson in that way, but defense-wise he really is proving to be a very good asset.”
16:30-16:45 On how Tim Duncan would approach his final season, which may or may not be 2015-16: “I don’t see Tim Duncan having a farewell tour. All of us journalists, all of us writers, have a running joke that if the Spurs win the championship, in his presser, post-game, he’ll say, ‘Alright guys, I’m done,’ and that’s the last time you’ll see him.”
This season, Kawhi Leonard has shouldered much of the Spurs’ scoring load in addition to playing tenacious defense (Mark Runyon/BasketballSchedule.net)
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In this action-packed episode, the guys reflect on the state of the Oklahoma City Thunder, particularly given Kevin Durant’s hamstring strain. Later, the trio celebrates the emergence of 24-year-old Kawhi Leonard as a bona fide offensive star and explores what in the hell is going on in Sacramento these days. Should George Karl lose his job this early in the season? Can the damage be undone? The OTNB boys are on the case.
Music: “Who Likes To Party” by Kevin MacLeod