The San Antonio Spurs were 20 ½ point favorites over the Philadelphia 76ers last night, and it was deserved. The Spurs are 54-16 and were riding a 13 game win streak (now 14) to what appears could be another Conference Title and maybe another NBA Title. Many think that this Spurs team could be the best group since they won it all back in 2007. The Sixers, on the other hand, have already made a series of moves that cemented their “playing for next year” status and were in the throes of a franchise record 24 straight losses (25 after last night). They are only one loss away from tying the current NBA record for consecutive losses which is currently held by the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers.
Tim Duncan was solid as ever with 19 points and Austin Daye added 22 more as the Spurs squandered any risk takers who might have been hoping for a big pay out by betting on the Sixers. The Spurs sat starters Tony Parker, Danny Green and Tiago Splitter but were still able to control their league best record with a 113-91 victory.
After the game Duncan said that obviously it is a tough season for Philadelphia and that it is a rebuilding year. He added that “it’s a process and [Brown] knows that,” referring to current Sixers’ head coach Brett Brown who was an assistant under Spurs coach Gregg Popovich in San Antonio.
Popvich said after the game that he felt horrible for Brown but that he would not say he felt “sorry” because pity would upset “one of my best friends.” Philadelphia will go to Houston on Thursday where they will face a talented Rockets team and hope to end a dubious streak.
Patty Mills and Kawhi Leonard both scored 15 for the Spurs and Cory Joseph had 12 more. For the Sixers, Michael Carter-Williams and Thaddeus Young both had 19 points while Byron Mullens scored 15 with Elliot Williams adding 14. The Sixers have fallen to 15-56 on the year.
For San Antonio, Daye was the unlikely star of the night. A player the team had acquired from Toronto back in February, he has only been averaging 2.3 minutes per appearance and has only appeared in four games so far with the Spurs. Daye shot 6 of 10 from beyond the arc and added six rebounds in the 29 minutes of action he saw.
“I’ve seen this over so many years,” Brown, who was under Popovich for seven seasons, said after the game. “People can come into that system and shine. This system creates opportunities for everybody, and he took advantage of those. The attention you have to give others and the movement that they have in their structure allowed him to get freed up a lot.”
San Antonio’s big three of Parker, Duncan and Ginobili have played together for a combined 39 seasons, which turns out to be seven years greater than the entire Philadelphia roster combined. The Spurs will look to improve their win streak to 15 as they prepare for the playoffs as Philadelphia tries to shake off their own streak.
Commentary by Nick Manai