The San Antonio Spurs announced Monday that guard Manu Ginobili and center Tiago Splitter will both miss the next two weeks of action, Ginobili due to an oblique strain he first injured against Detroit last week and Splitter due to a strained calf he suffered in Saturday’s victory against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Despite losing two of their top five players (Ginobili for the second time), the Spurs had an 11 game winning streak going into last night. And while the streak came to a screeching halt last night, it’s because he Spurs sat Tim Duncan AND Tony Parker.
On Monday, San Antonio beat Utah 106-102 behind 23 points and eleven assists from Tony Parker and 20 points from both Tim Duncan and Matt Bonner (yes, you read that right). That win gave the Spurs a 7-0 record on their annual Rodeo Road Trip, which is pretty impressive for a team that was 3-8 on the road before the trip started. Still the Spurs aren’t garnering any attention, except in various power rankings.
That begs the question, are the Spurs the most overlooked team in basketball? Yes and no.
ESPN and everyone else would be flipping out if the Lakers, Heat, Thunder, Celtics or a handful of other teams were going on an eleven game tear, mostly on the road and mostly without their best player. Then again, this is mostly the same team that was completely healthy last season and through the first half of the season were going on a ”95-96 Bulls-like run, before falling to in the first round of the playoffs to the eighth seeded Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizz were a terrible match up for the Spurs because of their size and Manu Ginobili was playing with a small fracture in his elbow. The Ginobili injury part mostly got overlooked because he was playing and yet for only the second time since the first round has gone to a seven game format, the eight seed beat the one seed.
So it’s understandable that the Spurs are being overlooked because both in San Antonio and around the league, what matters to most is what the Spurs do in the playoffs. The Spurs are absolutely the most overlooked team in basketball right now, but between Linsanity, the Miami Heat, Lob City and the sideshow happening in Laker Land, sometimes other story lines fall under the radar. San Antonio is the 37th largest TV market, don’t stir up any controversy and the Spurs haven’t won a title since 2007. Unfortunately you have to be a big TV market, have some controversy or win a ring to get noticed in today’s league. And if you ask the Spurs, they’ll tell you they don’t care. What they do in May and June will define the season for them, not what is being done in February.