Wembanyama’s Stellar Performance Boosts Spurs

Wembanyama’s Stellar Performance Boosts Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs were finally able to put a losing year behind them on New Year’s Eve. The Spurs lost again, this time to the Boston Celtics 134-101. It was a game that clearly showed the difference between a championship contender and a rebuilding team. It was always going to be a tough game for Spurs, but it was even tougher without some key players.

 

“It’s a tough challenge for our group right now,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after the game. “The attempts were there. It helps to make shots and we didn’t. But I was pleased with their effort and their ability to stay at their best.” Boston looked like a well-oiled machine on the floor. Moving the ball, penetrating from the dribble and finding wide open looks when they shot 54.3% from the field and 36.6% from deep. Jayson Tatum led the way with 25 points, but Jaylen Brown, Derrick White and Kristaps Porzingis contributed to the offense.

They dominated the Spurs, outscoring them 57-39 and grabbing 13 rebounds. In many ways, this was a typical loss for the Spurs in 2023. They just outplayed the better team and they didn’t do themselves any favors with unnecessary shots, cold shots and bad rebounds.

It was a losing year for basketball, but 2024 brings hope for a better future for fans. Victor Wembanyama is moving on and the future of the franchise is looking better than it is now. Maybe the Spurs need a calendar year reset to end the season on a more positive note.

Observations:

What could Wembanyama do without a minute limit? In the last few games, he started to understand things. He had 21 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and a block on Sunday night. Spurs try to get him the ball in goal, which was a huge help to their attack. One begins to feel that they are playing through him and not with him. This led to more passing opportunities and shots around the rim.

His deep ball drops more often as he went 3-for-8 from three. Sure, everyone talks about the dunk/dunk over White, but I think the more encouraging fake was the one he did over Al Horford. These are the kinds of plays that earn him the name Alien. What a comeback game it was for Dominick Barlow. The 20-year-old player scored 8 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists on Sunday.

He looked good defensively and worked hard to protect the rim and rebound. He even hit his first NBA 3-pointer in the fourth quarter! I have high Barlow potential. With Zach Collins out 2-4 weeks with an ankle injury (according to Popovich), it would be nice to see the big man get more minutes.

He’s proving it in the G-League, now give him a chance to do it with an NBA team. The defensive alienation of Jeremy Sochan’s game has stood out like a sore thumb recently. It doesn’t close properly. Sochan has a tendency to penetrate offensive players, which is why he draws so many shot fake fouls. Instead of spreading his legs and getting ready for a shot or sliding off his man’s rebound, he sprints outside and is often beaten away. Sochan is a talented and hardworking defender. If he can clean up that part of his game, it will pay dividends for the Spurs’ defensive attack.

 

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