Milk Carton Men

The Spurs are officially on Amber Alert.  Am I a fool for believing in San Antonio?  Honestly, I feel like one.  Their 61 regular season wins?  Fool’s gold.  Where are those legs with the pep in their step?  Aged overnight.  Where’s the defense that won four championships?  Non existent.  So far in this first round series with Memphis, the Spurs are nowhere to be found.  But here’s the worst part: I should have known.  How is it that an eight seed is up 3-1 in the best of seven series over the second best regular season team in the league and nobody is baffled by it?  I think deep in our minds we almost expected a collapse, but maybe not this early.  And not against Memphis.  What was so different about this Spurs team in 2011?  It’s basically the same nucleus, so why did I expect an older version of something that hasn’t worked in years to be successful?  Sure, that nucleus was healthy, but those once trusty pieces in San Antonio are now just crusty.  The greatest power forward to ever play the game of basketball has already seen his best days.  In a pivotal game four down 2-1, Tim Duncan went out and posted six points and seven rebounds in nearly 30 minutes of playing time.  And the numbers aren’t deceiving.  Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol were owning him like they just paid the last bill of a lien.  And his teammate Tony Parker, who not long ago was winning the NBA finals MVP, and considered widely to be a top point guard in the league, has been outplayed by Memphis guard Mike Conley.  Parker’s regular season average for turnovers have doubled in this first round against Memphis, and his assists have dropped over 30% since the start of the series.  What happened to those key role players?   Did DeJuan Blair even play Monday?  Technically yes.  Six minutes, two points.  I thought he was the spark plug combination of strength and toughness?  George Hill, who believe it or not received a vote from Bruce Bowen for sixth man of the year over Lamar Odom, had a truly amazing statistic Monday night against Memphis.  In the plus/minus category, Hill was a -26!  As in when Hill was on the floor, the four other guys he was playing with were outscored by the five Memphis players by 26 points.  That’s got to be the worst for any player in any series in these playoffs.  To top it all off Richard Jefferson, who was thought at one point to be the essential offensive piece needed in San Antonio, managed to put up a zero in the scoring column over his 27 minutes of playing time.  At the end of the regular season I was on the verge of reaching deep in my bag of nicknames and labeling the Spurs ‘Old Hickory’…now I’m on the verge of labeling them just plain old.  2011 was supposed to be the revival year in San Antonio.  The year that the Spurs would find their way back to the promised land.  Instead of the promised land, the Spurs are wandering aimlessly in the proverbial playoff desert, one game removed from the off-season.

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