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What we learned from Tottenham’s loss to the Pelicans

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I’ll try to keep this short and sweet because I know many of you are getting ready to spend Thanksgiving Day with your family, and Tottenham probably wouldn’t be the happiest subject. Of course, before 40 days you probably didn’t have any plans to discuss at your family get-togethers anyway. They weren’t supposed to be that good from the start, so it was a pleasant surprise to many when they started the season 5-2.

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The offense was to click surprisingly well for such a devious young group. The defense was sharp in its spin, smashing the boards, good at not fouling, and first on every ball 50-50. The only complaint was the amount of give up at breakfast. However, it all came back to reality in what has since been a 1-11 season. The team had an astonishingly bad first quarter, coming off scoreless on offense and slow on defense. Double-digit deficits have become the norm, and the Spurs have yet to win a game this season when they were down by double digits after the first quarter.

Some—but not all—offensive fights can be attributed to sluggish shooting from Keldon Johnson. (Unfortunately, his franchise game streak came to an end with three games last night.) It also probably doesn’t help that teams have learned they can fall behind Trey Jones and Jeremy Suchan on defense, which puts more pressure on Johnson and Devin Vassell for points. However, fights at the end of the offensive were to be expected, but they did not excuse the weak defence.

One thing that has been a staple of Tottenham’s top four championship teams was even when offense let them down, the defense was always there to keep them competitive. Tottenham currently have the chops to be at least a mid-range defensive team, but the youngsters have emerged lately with a poor rotation resulting in plenty of open threes or easy backdoor pieces for the opposition. Some of that can be attributed to the young Tottenham getting annoyed with himself when he struggles to score.

It’s all part of the maturation process, and this team will still have growing pains, but that’s okay. Just because Tottenham are who we thought they would be doesn’t mean a bright future doesn’t lie ahead. No matter where this team is in the rebuilding process, the city of San Antonio and fans around the world will always be thankful they are there. (This wasn’t really short and sweet, but oh well.)

Takeaway

  • Suchan did not have his best night. He sure shot well, and made his way to the paint with 12 effective points, but it was a frustrating game for him. He was in bad trouble all night, getting a rookie tackle from Zion Williamson. He took an elbow to the back of his head, then slammed his head into the ground after Williamson bodyed him into a throwing position. To add insult to injury, Zion flexed him while he was lying on the floor (bordering on a sarcastic technique), then turned and faced Suchchan again with a double flex after his spurs called a timeout to make sure he was okay. Williamson continued to make gestures all night, and the rookie showed maturity and good control so as not to retaliate in any way. This is part of the growing NBA experience.
  • For the pro-tank carriers who say Doug McDermott should be traded because shooting will likely help the Spurs a lot, you are misinformed. It doesn’t necessarily make Tottenham better. It makes them more watchable, especially at low times. His 11 points in the first quarter was the only reason the Spurs didn’t have a single-digit score after 12 minutes, and although this team is currently mired in a multi-game offensive rut, it’s one of the few bright spots. I don’t know why anyone committed to watching every game of Tottenham this season wouldn’t want their shot at this team.
  • I will never be one to root for Lakersbut I hope they can turn things around Just Enough to avoid giving Pelicans a huge lottery pot, or at least, one of the four best slots. (For those not in the know, New Orleans has the right to trade picks with the Lakers in the upcoming draft via an Anthony Davis trade.) They already have a former top overall pick in Williamson — who was considered a generational talent when he was drafted and could still become one if He could stay healthy – and so could former second overall pick Brandon Ingram (also from the Davis trade). Not to mention, they had their chance with Davis’ top pick and fourth overall pick Chris Paul back in the day. In other words, the Pelicans have had their share of high lottery picks to work with over the past 15-20 years, so now it’s someone else’s turn. (However, I hope the Spurs snap off their losing streak and beat the Lakers on Friday and Saturday because that would make me happy, too.)
  • Ending on a happy note: KJ has officially pulled off Manu Ginobili. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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