Spurs’ MVP beauty more than skin deep

By Fran Blinebury, NBA.com


VIDEO: Parker leads Spurs to Game 1 rout of Trail Blazers

SAN ANTONIO – They gave out the Kia MVP award earlier in the day.

Kevin Durant over LeBron James in the ultimate 1-on-1 beauty contest.

But the Spurs have never been ones for strutting their stuff down the runway.

Tim Duncan and Tony Parker finished in a tie for 12th place.

“I can’t wait to tell them,” said their coach Gregg Popovich.

There was no need for him to tell the Trail Blazers, who were on the wrong end of a 116-92 clubbing in the opener of the Western Conference semifinal series on Tuesday night.

The Spurs, of course, have been running an entirely different kind of race for years, one that never quite looks right in a bikini.

This is not the way championship teams are supposed to be constructed in the NBA, a league that has always been built on individual stars who are able to hoist entire teams up on their backs.

Mikan. Russell. Kareem. Bird. Magic. Isiah. Michael. Shaq. Kobe. Wade. Dirk. LeBron.

But here are the Spurs winning a league-best 62 in the regular season while trying their damnedest to look a basketball version of the Rockettes, one huge chorus line where it’s the high kick of the collective that most impresses.

“That’s a championship team,” said Blazers guard Damian Lillard, the star of a team celebrated for getting out of the first round for the first time in 14 years. “They came out with more energy than we did. They threw the first punch on both ends of the floor.”

That’s because the Spurs have been throwing punches in these postseason situations since only what seems like the dawn of time. Duncan alone has played more playoff games (219) than the entire Portland franchise.

“They did what championship teams do,” said Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge. “Most of the guys on (our) team haven’t even been in the second round and they’ve won championships. They’ve been here. I think they definitely came out and let us know how it’s going to be.”

That is, like playing an octopus armed with a set of butcher knives.

While Parker grabbed the spotlight in Game 1 with 33 points and nine assists, this is not his wagon to pull. Not alone. Not all by himself through the long playoff grind.

Parker is the match, but the fire comes from a Spurs lineup that burns deeper than any other in the league.

Perhaps the only team in NBA history to win a championship without a truly singular star was the 2004 Pistons. Ben Wallace was their highest finisher in MVP voting that year. Wallace was 10th. Yet he, Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace took down the mighty Lakers.

The Spurs have taken that approach one step further, spreading the wealth and conserving their energy all season long in order to be fit and ready for this charge.

Not a single player on the Spurs roster averaged 30 minutes this season. Parker was tops at 29.4.

The Spurs had nine different players who averaged at least 8.2 points and nobody higher than 16.7.

No stars? Tell that to the Blazers, who were seeing them before the end of the first quarter.

This was a Portland team that went into Houston to open the first round of the playoffs and arrogantly rearranged the furniture in winning the first two games on the road. On this night, they were lost, befuddled, hopelessly overmatched.

“They play your plays,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “They knew where and what we were going to do. They did what all teams do in the playoffs.”

The Spurs just do it better.

All that angst and worry when they were pushed to seven games in the first round by the No. 8 Mavericks.

Too slow, too old, too tired?

So in the past two games, San Antonio has averaged 117.5 points, won by an average of 23.5, shot 54 percent from the field and 42.5 percent on 3-pointers.

The Spurs’ defense bodied up Lillard and kept him from doing damage in the paint, kept a lid on Aldridge early and never let the Blazers grow an ounce of confidence.

By the second quarter, the little-used Kiwi-by-birth, Australian-by-passport Aron Baynes was tossing around Portland like throw pillows and the Spurs never let the Blazers get closer than 20 at any time in the last 28 minutes of the game.

When Parker capped off his night with one especially dazzling spin drive, drew a foul and stood at the free throw line late in the third quarter, the home crowd rose with the obligatory chant: “MVP! MVP!”

By that time, it had already been given to someone else who doesn’t play for the Spurs.

Don’t bother to tell them.

30 Comments

  1. Mike says:

    Spurs really aren’t that good against Indy, neither is OKC and we beat both of them during regular season. OKC went 4-0 on Spurs, and we can easily beat Spurs or OKC. Especially in 4 games.

    Steel Curtain D- George, Hibbert, West, Lance, Hill

    Pacers will win it all just because we are a better team than yours. Pacers in 6 rest of the way.

    6 for was
    6 for mia
    and 6 for ??? Hopefully OKC because spurs aren’t a challenge.

  2. Mike says:

    Pacers in 6 rest of the way.

    g2
    David West
    Lance
    Hibbert

    Meet the Steel Curtain D of INDY. Good luck lasting 6 games to any fan.

  3. NBA Fan says:

    Great Article, I thoroughly enjoyed.

  4. okc2014 says:

    Portland Trailblazers are done.

  5. MR210 says:

    Tim Duncan has 3 finals MVP’s.
    He has ‘hoisted’ the Spurs on his back for over a decade. No need to anymore – now that he has Tony Parker.

    If Spurs keep playing team ball the way they played Game 7 vs. Dallas in 1st round, and Game 1 vs. Portland – they can’t be beat.

    Best point guard in the league: Tony Parker.

    And, he’s the all time scoring point-guard in the playoffs. That is…unless you count Magic Johnson as a Point Guard…in which case he’s behind Magic. But by the time these playoffs are over – Tony Parker will no doubt be the all time scoring point guard in playoffs.
    Spurs will go as far as Tony takes them.

  6. neptunstudio says:

    There is still open place for mvp of playoffs! :)
    Go Spurs, Go Parker, Go Duncan!
    Tittle number 5, here we come! :)

  7. neptunstudio says:

    There is still open place for mvp of playoffs :)
    Go Spurs, Go Parker, Go Duncan!

  8. Fefe (Nets) says:

    That’s the Spurs for sure! Can’t duplicate them.

  9. GoodjobGuy says:

    Nice article. “The Spurs, of course, have been running an entirely different kind of race for years, one that never quite looks right in a bikini.” DA TRUTH

  10. cdg says:

    Aron Baynes.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aron_Baynes

    Born in NZ, plays for Australia. Nationality is Australian.

  11. Mike says:

    FINALLY!! Finally an article that acknowledges Aron Baynes as a Kiwi. Spurs in 5

  12. Aussie Fan says:

    Aron baynes is actually and aussie

  13. Dopeman says:

    Baynes a Kiwi…Try to tell that to his face he will tell you he is an Aussie and he plays with the Australian Boomers!

    • Mike says:

      He has to say he’s an Aussie or else he wouldn’t be allowed to play for the Boomers.

  14. theholyspectator says:

    hey at least blazers made it out the first round

  15. Moe says:

    When my Spurs play like this kind of basketball it’s a beauty to watch. After the Dallas series seem like they are playing with more energy.

  16. tv63 says:

    They have plenty of stars just ‘You” the media have never appreciated them and so far this morning there isn’t 1 story about them on yahoo. It’s like they don’t even exisit.

  17. Latigo Spurs Rapper says:

    GO SPURS GO! Let’s keep the wins coming. :-)

  18. Someone else says:

    You list players that you say are “individual stars who are able to hoist entire teams up on their backs” but many of those you mentioned did not do that. But two players who led overwise average teams to championships – Hakeem Olajuwon and Rick Barry do not get mentioned.

  19. Michael says:

    Spurs are the MVT. At least Pop got another COY. Parker looked like he was playing a lunch-time scrimmage in game 1. It was good to see productive minutes from Mills and especially Baynes. Well, really the whole Foreign Legion.

  20. Correction says:

    Baynes is Australian, not a Kiwi!

  21. Andrew says:

    It’s really hard to understand that Lillard outplayed by Parker and Aldridge pawned by Duncan. This shows experience could get u the ring.

  22. brendan says:

    aron baynes is not a KIWI he is an AUSTRALIAN not a New Zealander

  23. Al says:

    Great article but I just can’t help myself from pointing out a mistake. Aron Baynes is Australian. Kiwi is the term used for people from New Zealand…it’s like me calling LeBron James Canadian. Don’t do it.

    • Al says:

      I actually just ran a google to double check and while Aron Baynes is listed as an Australian professional athlete he was born in New Zealand so I am barking up the wrong tree. Much respect for getting that right.

  24. Patrick says:

    Go Spurs Go !

  25. DeeDubs says:

    Great article, I would critique that Timmy D should be thrown in with those legends that carried a team. He carried the Spurs to the 1999-2003 Championships.

  26. allaroundballer says:

    I’ll hate blazers if they’re unable to give a fight on this series. Especialy after they took down rockets like that

  27. NBA history says:

    “This is not the way championship teams are supposed to be constructed in the NBA, a league that has always been built on individual stars who are able to hoist entire teams up on their backs.”

    So, when does Tim Duncan/Tony Parker not a legit Super star? Let me remind you that they WERE THE FINAL MVP.

    TD is the heart of the Spurs. He represents the team and still the leader of the ageless team. His performance in the season and the playoff have showed us again and again why he is one of the all time greatest PF.

    If he is not a Superstar, who can be?