SAN ANTONIO — The Spurs are on the verge of winning a fifth NBA title since drafting Tim Duncan back in 1997, and have made the playoffs in each of the last 17 seasons.
It’s been an incredible run that manages to keep on keeping on, despite the fact that every few years, the so-called experts who follow the league are quick to declare the team’s impending demise.
Tim Duncan and Tony Parker don’t appear to be the types who would bother trying to turn such nonsense into some form of internal motivation, but at Saturday’s media availability session, both of them separately brought up the fact that many had counted them out at various times in the past.
“We’ve been on our last run for the last five or six years from how everyone wants to put it,” Duncan said. “We show up every year, and we try to put together the best teams and the best runs possible because what people say doesn’t matter to us.”
Parker had a similar response, when asked why this season is different in that people don’t seem to be talking like this might be another of those supposedly final runs through the postseason.
“I don’t know,” Parker said. “You should talk to your colleagues, you know? You’ve been saying that for the last seven, eight years. I don’t know what to say. Every year the journalists keep saying the same stuff that we’re done and it’s the last run. I totally understand. We’re getting older every year, but we always come back and just keep pushing the limits, I guess, especially Timmy and Manu. We just keep playing great basketball.”
Chris Paul broke his finger Saturday.
The initial diagnosis said the injury wasn’t serious.
Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times:
Paul obviously wouldn’t push it during the preseason. If the Clippers are allowing him to play, this can’t be bad.
Really, the most challenging aspect to this is grasping the concept that a broke finger can be a minor injury.
Brad Stevens has a big challenge this year – sorting the Celtics’ deep roster of similarly able players.
It seems that process is shaking out at power forward and center.
A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:
it appears Boston’s first four bigs will be starters David Lee and Tyler Zeller, with Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk off the bench.
That leaves Jonas Jerebko and Jared Sullinger, potentially on the outside looking in as far as the regular rotation is concerned.
Lee is the best passer of the bunch, which could partially explain why he’s starting. Boston’s most likely starting point guard, Marcus Smart, is still growing into the role of the lead ball-handler at the NBA level. Lee and presumptive starting shooting guard Avery Bradley can take some pressure off him.
Olynyk can space the floor for Isaiah Thomas-Johnson pick-and-rolls with the reserves and run pick-and-pops with Thomas himself.
I’m a little surprised Zeller is starting over Johnson, though. The Celtics just signed Johnson to a $12 million salary, and I thought they’d rely on his defense to set a tone early. Like Johnson, Zeller is a quality pick-and-roll finisher who can thrive with Thomas.
This is particularly bad news for Sullinger, who – barring a surprising contract extension – is entering a contract year. It seems those reports of offseason conditioning haven’t yet paid off. Jerebko’s deal also isn’t guaranteed beyond this season, but at least he has already gotten his mid-sized payday. Sullinger is still on his rookie-scale contract.