Look, I’m not very optimistic about our chances against the San Antonio Spurs. Even before the DeMarcus Cousins trade, beating the Spurs would have been a tall order. In fact, in the last 40 matchups with the San Antonio Spurs, the Kings have won just 4 times. In the entire Sacramento-era, the Kings have won just 15 times in 61 attempts in San Antonio (including a 6-7 record during the “Glory Years”).
This year’s Spurs team is the first in nearly two decades without Tim Duncan, but they’re managing just fine as Kawhi Leonard has become a superstar in his own right. Leonard is averaging a career-high 26.3 points a game but is also the best defender on the best defensive team in the NBA. He is singlehandedly winning San Antonio games right now. Just check out this phenomenal sequence against Houston the other night.
The Spurs offense is also still incredible. They’re 6th in the league in offensive rating, and while Leonard carries the load for them, nearly everyone else manages to contribute in some way.
For the Kings, this will be a good teaching moment. While they almost assuredly won’t win the game, they can at least try to be competitive and learn from some of the best. I would like to see the young guys get some decent minutes against this crew, especially if the game gets out of hand. Buddy Hield needs to see what it feels like to be guarded by the best defense in the world. Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere need to look to guys like LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol (even though Pau’s best days are behind him), skilled big men that can contribute on both ends of the floor.
This should be a great teaching moment for Dave Joerger. Let’s not kid ourselves of our chances, and at least hope that this team takes away something from seeing how an organization like the Spurs operates where it’s not about any one player (even though they do have one stellar player) but about the team as a cohesive unit, with winning as the ultimate goal above all else.
Tip-off’s at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time. Go Kings.