The Phoenix Suns finished off a sweep of San Antonio last night, topping the Spurs 107-101. During the course of the series, the resurgent Suns made the Spurs look slow and old. Well, actually, the Spurs made themselves look slow and old.
Once the most dominant franchise in the NBA, San Antonio looked more like an over-the-hill boxer trying to hang on for one last title shot. While Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili can still play, they’re not the dominant tri0 they were three years ago. The Spurs’ offense was stagnant, their energy level was pitiful and the gaps in their defense were wider than Ginobili’s bald spot. It was sad to watch.
In addition to all of that, facing off against Amare Stoudemire for four games made Tim Duncan look like he’s ready for a motorized cart, life alert and tapioca with every meal.
Numbers-wise, Duncan performed well in the playoffs. His averages of 19.2 points and 10.1 rebounds per game weren’t bad, but anyone who watched him play this postseason knows he had to work much harder than ever to reach those numbers. On top of that, the 34-year-old hit just 48.4 percent of his free throws, when he hit 72.5 percent during the regular season and is a career 68.7 percent shooter from the charity stripe.
The Spurs seem to have been outdone by an accumulation of years, injuries and miles. The roster’s average age is 27, but when you look at the actual minutes being given out, it’s based almost entirely on guys over 30.
In the playoffs, the Spurs had eight players average more than 10 minutes per game: Duncan (37.3), Ginobili (34.9), George Hill (34.3), Richard Jefferson (33.3), Tony Parker (33.2), Antonio McDyess (25.3), Matt Bonner (15.9) and Roger Mason (11.2). The average age of those eight players is 30 years old.
While that may not seem too high, remember that Tony Parker just finished his ninth NBA season and is only 27-years-old. He’s got miles on his legs and it’s started to show this year. He has clearly lost a step and nagging injuries have begun to pile up for Mr. Longoria. This past season he averaged just 16.0 points (his lowest average since 20o4), 5.7 assists (his lowest since 2007), 2.4 rebounds (worst of his career), 2.7 turnovers (most since 2006), and 0.5 steals per game (worst of his career). He also played just 30.9 minutes per game, the lowest total since his rookie year. His game has gradually begun to fall off.
Meanwhile Richard Jefferson was added in the offseason to bring some youth and athleticism to the team. It didn’t exactly work out as hoped. Jefferson also logged arguably his worst season since his rookie year (12.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.6 steals and 31.1 minutes per game). Sure he was adjusting to a new team and a new system but the 29-year-old Arizona product didn’t exactly light the world on fire, and when you’re making $14.2 million a year you’re supposed to do just that.
After such a disappointing playoff exit, there are talks of breaking up the band in San Antonio. Rumors persist that Parker will be shopped this offseason and replaced by the 24-year-old Hill at point guard for the Spurs.
After watching the team get waxed by the Suns there’s really no way you can argue that the team should stand pat.