Spurs’ Latest Loss Continues To Show Team Needs Handle Business In Every Game

By Gregory Moore
Updated: January 25, 2005

Marcus Beasley
Tony Parker is leading the charge for the Spurs to become the best in the NBA but are him and his teammates not taking their opponents seriously at times?

SAN ANTONIO – At 34-10, the San Antonio Spurs are, by the numbers, the best team in the NBA right now. They have taken on opponents night in and night out and have played up to high standard. However, like many teams, the Spurs have had lapses in their play against certain teams and it has come at times when they needed to be mentally tougher than usual. Their latest lapse came on Monday night when they allowed the Portland Trailblazers to score 30 points in the first quarter and it was that burst of confidence that allowed the hapless Blazers win the contest, 107-99.

“They played physical, they played smart, I just think they played really well,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich told reporters after the game. “They played together, they moved the ball, and they kicked our butt.” Spurs fans will tell you that a loss like this is heart wrenching because you know that this Spurs team is special. However when it comes to analyzing this team’s consistency at being inconsistent at times, you have to put the good games aside and take a hard look at the ten losses that this team now have on their record. Of these ten games, at least 50 to 75% of them can be contributed to the fact that this team has not taken their opponents in the serious nature that is usually so prevalent in how they play. As a matter of fact if you look at the two Seattle losses, the one loss to Sacramento, their loss to Utah just a scant two weeks ago this past Monday and the recent loss to the Blazers, you see a trend that is really become an Achilles Heel for this team. That trend happens to be the team’s inconsistency to come out of the block quickly and maintain a high level of competitiveness even when it seems that victory is at hand.

PYSCHOLOGICAL ‘WARFARE’ IS ESSENTIAL TO WINNING RIGHT NOW No one can probably be more critical than the coaching staff and the players themselves. Thursday night the Spurs will be taking on Sacramento Kings and Saturday night it will be the New Orleans Hornets. That following Monday, they will be in the Pacific Northwest once again to take on the Seattle Supersonics. It’s a set of games that mean something for this team to conquer because there are a couple of teams that need to be vanquished and that will only come when the team beats these opponents in sensational fashion. For example, the Spurs need to duplicate their tremendous win a few nights ago against the Kings on Thursday night against that same said opponent. There is a psychological advantage that this team needs to gather from that win on Thursday and should Coach Popovich and company get the team in that winning position, that momentum can carry on to the next game.

Psychological warfare may not seem like an appropriate cliché to use but when you are talking about sports, especially in the realm of basketball or other team related activities, there is such a thing as being able to psychologically master your opponent before you even begin the next contest. Think about why some teams are just abhorrently abysmal while others are just vastly superior. Why did the Los Angeles Lakers have such a stranglehold on the Spurs in recent years? Why were the San Francisco 49ers so dominant in the late to mid 1990s? What made the New York Yankees so formidable for numerous seasons that had them winning World Series championships in recent years? All of these questions can be answered in one phrase: they were psychologically more superior than their opponents because they had beaten their opponents prior to the first whistle being blown, the first coin toss or the first jump ball. Some may say its playing mind games but actually it is adapting the heart of a warrior and being victorious even before you begin the contest. For this current Spurs roster, they must find ways to adapt this winning perception into every game they play.

COMBATING COMPLACENCY MAIN JOB TO MAINTAIN A WINNING TEAM There is a complacency bug in the team that seems to creep in every twelve games or so. What that means is that as the team starts to play at a really high level and the wins become so easy, they simply put everything on cruise control and just expect to win by showing up. How many times have we heard players, coaches and even fans just mention that fact in an interview or in conversation? All too often it seems; especially when the word dynasty is used in conjunction with a team’s dominance these days. Yet the reality of any good team is that they do get very complacent during the season. Some nights teams will take the ‘game’ off and rest up their starters during the last stretch of road trips. Yet the Spurs are not one of the teams that do that on a frequent basis and they definitely haven’t done that in any of the ten losses they have suffered during the season. They may do it in a game when they are winning but against a team and losing, that’s not in their make up. If there is one thing that this team doesn’t do is quit when faced with adversity; at least not this current roster.

However if this team wants to continue win, they will have to be able to fight through the lull of being complacent during the good times and remain focused no matter who their opponent may be. I’m sure this isn’t something new to the staff or the players and it really shouldn’t be new to fans. The only thing that should be new at this point is the start of another win streak prior to the All-Star break.