Spurs Season Comes to a Close, Questions Coming in the Offseason
The Spurs' season ended against the Lakers, in a fairly close, but ultimately losing effort in Game 5. The final score was 100-92, and the Spurs were within striking distance late in the game, but no one could stop Kobe Bryant, who ended the game with 39 points, 17 of which came in the final quarter.
For San Antonio, the script was the same as it had been for the series. Tim Duncan did his usual thing, putting up a triple double with 19 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists, and Tony Parker led the team with 23 points. As a team, the Spurs certainly scored enough to win, as five players scored in double digits. Offense was not the problem, as the team shot 48% from the field, and from behind the arc. Unfortunately, the team’s defense was not up to the task, as the Spurs’ strength turned into a liability against the Lakers.
Manu Ginobili once again had a terrible game, only managing 9 points, and missing several shot late in the game. For Ginobili, perhaps the season being over is a blessing in disguise. The Argentine had been playing with a bad ankle, and the Lakers capitalized as they forced him to go to his off-hand time after time. He had a forgettable playoffs all the way around this season.
Early in the game, it looked like the Spurs might be able to extend the series, and move it back to San Antonio for Game 6. In the second quarter San Antonio went on a 15-1 run that gave them a 17 point lead. In a sign of things to come, the Lakers then went a run to cut the lead to 6 points before halftime. In the third quarter, the Spurs built a 10 point lead, but Kobe Bryant then took over the game, daring the Spurs to stop him—something that San Antonio, and most other teams in the league, have been unable to do all year.
So at the end of it all, the Spurs have the off-season to decide the future of the team. The team is certainly not getting any younger, although the nucleus of Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker still have some years left. The role players are a different story, however. Horry, Finley, Barry, and Thomas are all well into their 30s, and certainly near the ends of their careers. San Antonio does have a first round draft pick, and two seconds this year, as well as the rights to several foreign players that management hopes to plug into the team when they are ready. A major overhaul is not in the cards, as the owners have stated time and again that the big three are not on the trade block.
The Spurs enter the offseason disappointed, but likely not overwhelmingly surprised. All season long, the team fought to stay healthy, and had several substantial losing streaks which signaled that this might not be their year. In addition, the other teams in the West upgraded just before the trade deadline, while the Spurs, for the most part, stayed pat.