Spurs slip but still have chance to avoid fall

Keep it together.

The best team in the NBA may have the No. 1 spot all but sealed but now is not the time for them to slip.

San Antonio has been running on all cylinders this season as they have amassed the best record in the league at 54-13.  However, they need to finish the regular season strong if they plan on making any sort of statement in the playoffs.

Last night, the Spurs lost to the Miami Heat 110-80.  Yeah, the same Heat that they beat last week 125-95.  According to STATS LLC, it was just the second time in NBA history that such a swing in scoring has happened.  Last season, the Dallas Mavericks beat New York by 50 at Madison Square Garden.  They lost to them at home by 34 nearly two months later.

Additionally, the loss was to the Heat that entered Monday with an 0-9 record against the Bulls, Celtics, Mavs and Spurs.  Well, make that 1-9 now for many reasons.

Yes, Chris Bosh played well with smart shot selection and 30 points in the box score (Hey, that’s the same amount they won by).  However, it’s the Spurs offense that looked ragged and their defense that looked anemic.

San Antonio leads the league in scoring with a .399 percentage.  They went 6 for 22 from beyond the arc.  They are averaging 103 points a game but only mustered 80 against the Heat.  Miami hasn’t held a team to that few points since the Clippers’ 79 on February 6.

They went long stretches of the game with zero points and it was mainly due to poor shot selection.  Tony Parker did not drive the lane once during the game and only made four of nine shots from inside the arc.

Gary Neal is one reason that this team has become such an offensive, high-speed team.  He made two shots in the second, one in the third and one in the fourth.  That’s it.

George Hill was invisible even though he was on the floor for 30 minutes.  He made one shot.  An eight-foot jumper in the second quarter.

I forgot that Richard Jefferson was on the Spurs since he didn’t take one shot in the second half.

During a late timeout, head coach Greg Popovich virtually told his team to run their asses off and get a workout.

They did and all it did was open up the fastbreak for the Heat.  It shut down the Spurs’ transition defense and allowed LeBron James and Dwyane Wade put on an offensive circus that got the Miami fans on their feet for once.

Yes, San Antonio has been beating up on some bad teams this month including Miami once.  However, statement wins have been hard to come by lately for the Spurs (remember, the Heat were 0-9 against the top two teams in each conference going into yesterday’s game).

Memphis beat them at the beginning of the month.

Derrick Rose dropped 42 points on them on February 17 in a 109-99 loss to the Bulls.

Philadelphia held them to 71 points in February as well.

However, it’s not the end of the world.  The Spurs are a good team and like I said, the essentially have the top seed sealed.

They need to prime themselves for the playoffs though and this new style of play doesn’t lend itself to that.  Last night, they looked tired and the regular season still has a month to go.  It will wear them out but they will also have the opportunity get this offense ready for the playoffs.

On Friday, they have an opportunity to shine against the Mavericks who will have Dirk Nowitzki.  Golden State will test their defense on the 21st and Denver will push them on the 23rd.  They will have an opportunity to shut down a small team in Memphis towards the end of the month and Portland will test their ability to take on a super scrappy squad.  Boston will test all of the above on the 31st.

The Western Conference has some serious teams set to make the playoffs and San Antonio needs to be ready.  Anyone can beat up on crap and crap can beat anyone (remember, 0-9 going into yesterday).  It’s going to be hard and it’s a new system for the Spurs.  Hopefully it wont fade.

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