Posted on May 10, 2016 by Travis Pulver
For years, there has not been a team better at playing team-oriented, unselfish basketball quite like the San Antonio Spurs. However, as all things do, times are changing and the Spurs along with them. Gone is the team that could count on an incredible combination of talent and role players to save the day on a regular basis. They are now more like their opponents in the Western Conference Semifinals—they are star dependent.
However, should they go on to take down the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Five it will not be because of their young superstars—LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard. It will be because they have the most incredible set of role players an NBA coach could want.
Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
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At one time, they were the Big Three; they were the reason why the Spurs were the team to beat in the Western Conference for more than a decade. However, as with all things, age has caught up with them. They are not the focal point of the team anymore. That position belongs to Leonard and Aldridge.
San Antonio will need those two on top of their games to win, of course, but they can’t do it alone. They need help from the rest of the team. They need Tim Duncan to be the Big Fundamental and not get shut down by a couple of youngsters. They need Tony Parker to notch double-digits in assists. They need Manu Ginobili to be more productive with his time.
They don’t need to take over the game or even lead the team in scoring. They just need to be more than just a shadow of their former selves—because the Thunder are one of the most star-dependent teams in the NBA.
As Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook go, so go the Thunder. The supporting cast in Oklahoma City is nowhere near as talented as with the Spurs, and is certainly not good enough to pick up the slack should their stars falter.
After a not-so-good performance in Game Four, the Spurs will need to get their heads on straight before taking the court for Game Five. They will need to correct the glaring mistakes and get back to playing the kind of ball the Spurs have become known for under Gregg Popovich; something they did not do in Game Four.
“We just missed some shots as well off some good passes,” Kawhi Leonard told the media after Game Four. “Obviously, we’re a team that prides itself on getting assists. So we’ve got to try to get some ball movement, and [we need] to get them moving a little more.”
If there is anyone that can get their heads on straight before Game Five, it is Popovich. Playing at home, where they have only lost twice the entire season doesn’t hurt either. However, should they start too slow and give Durant and Westbrook time to find their shots fans in San Antonio could witness something they are not accustomed to seeing.