The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Monday, November 21, 2005

Belated Spurs Preview

I've been remiss in not posting some sort of Spurs preview, but since they're only 10% of the way through the season posting one right now is still called for.

If I had written this post a few weeks back, I would've put the over/under on the number of regular season wins they'd have at 65. I'd drop that down to 62 now. Everyone really seemed to inflate their total wins because of the Finley and Van Exel additions. Even though we've seen this before. Teams add a couple of good-to-great players on the back end of their careers and are now seen to be the favorite. We saw this in Houston with the additions of Drexler, Pippen and Barkley and in LA with the signings of Payton and Malone. Injuries, not being the top dog anymore and high expectations all inevitably take their toll.

I think the early 70-win talk was just national columnists trying to find an exciting angle to this year's season. 70 wins wasn't going to pan out for two reasons. One, the Spurs don't have Michael Jordan. No one has that big of a killer instinct on this squad and they let up a few too many times during an 82-game season to lose only 12 or fewer games. Two, the difference between the really good teams teams in the league is much smaller now than it was ten years ago. Especially when you compare the 95-96 Eastern Conference to the 05-06 Western Conference.

While injuries have been a small factor early on, I wouldn't expect them to play that big of a role as the season progresses. Those most susceptible to the nagging, off and on injuries would be the older players who won't see a starter's chunk of playing time on a regular basis anyway.

But they are the champs, and for possibly the first time ever they are clear cut favorites to repeat. And unless Amare Stoudamire can come back with a vengeance in February, I don't see anyone really challenging the Spurs' dominance in the West. Which means they should be well rested and ready for whomever comes out the Eastern Conference war.