Saturday night's blitzkrieg of the Warriors wasn't nearly as close as the 35 point scoring difference might have you believe. I was prepared to write about how great it was to see the Spurs second unit maintain focus down to the final buzzer, still running their offense, still giving great effort on defense, in what amounted to more than a full quarter of garbage time. I wanted to say the final quarter of the game was indicative of George Hill's maturity and composure. But that stuff just ain't true.
At some point in the 3rd quarter the Spurs were up by more than 40 and the glutton in me was pining for a 50 point bloodbath. Pop would have none of that, though. His team went into coach-orchestrated slo-mo. He opted to have Jacque Vaughn and George Hill walk the ball up the court, set up their offense, and use the clock. Pop has too much class, and would take no pleasure in beating his former mentor by 50. As Jeff McDonald wrote following the the game, "In the NBA equivalent of a quarterback taking a knee, Popovich prohibited his team from fast breaks."
So, I'm looking for another reason to take satisfaction in the victory, as if a 35 point landslide wasn't enough, even if it did come against one of the worst defensive teams in the league.
The Spurs own Golden State's 2009 second round draft pick, by way of Phoenix, as part of last year's draft deal that sent the pick and cash to them in exchange for Goran Dragic. The Spurs also came away with Malik Hairston in the exchange, who to my eyes looks more promising than the Suns less talented version of Lindsey Hunter. I digress.
Nellie-Ball is failing in Oakland, Maggette has second thoughts about choosing Golden State over San Antonio, Golden State has buyers remorse over Maggette, the fans are calling C-Mag "bad porn" (can't be good), and the Warriors front office is in shambles. Truthfully, it's in Golden State's best interest to develop their young players and, I'll say it, tank. I smell a pick somewhere between 33-36.
This is to the Spurs good fortune in a couple of ways. The Spurs traded their 2009 first round pick away in the Kurt Thomas deal. In hindsight, one wonders if they didn't overpay. Thankfully, the 2009 draft is reportedly weak. Although it would be nice to have the asset of another pick in February, the Golden State pick helps mitigate against the loss.
Moreover, the Golden State pick won't place a salary hold on San Antonio going into 2010 the way a 1st round pick might have. The Spurs are in a position to collect on their best draft and stash option (remember, many foreign born players are requesting to be drafted in the 2nd round because of rookie salary scale restraints) or to take a chance on a decent player for training camp. Pop and Buford have a good history with late picks, so there is hope they could swing a worthwhile player at the top of the 2nd.
All things considered, I'm officially cheering against the Warriors this season.