To call the San Antonio Spurs boring has become cliché. Fast break alley-oops for LeBron James, observers note, are at one end of the basketball-excitement spectrum; Tim Duncan bank shots the other. It has become almost equally cliché to counter by pointing to San Antonio’s “machine-like” efficiency.
I dare not dispute either point. The Spurs are remarkably efficient—their effective field-goal percentage of 53.7 percent was No. 2 in the league this season—and as for watching TD bank shots, I, too, care very little.
But I do worry that the San Antonio Spurs are going the way of football’s extra point. Extra points have become so automatic in the NFL (99.6 percent were converted in 2013) that fans glaze over them and commissioner Roger Goodell has discussed their elimination.
The Spurs don’t have to worry about being banished from the league, but they are underappreciated—not in the sense that we fail to recognize their greatness, but in the sense that we do not care to understand it.
Just as we expect seven points to go on the scoreboard each time the ball crosses the goal line, we expect to see the Spurs atop the Western Conference at season’s end.
Let’s pause, then, on this edition of “The Breakdown” to take a look at how they do it. And remember, for more coverage of the NBA playoffs, check out Complex’s new hoops site TriangleOffense.com.