The San Antonio Spurs boast the league’s best 3-point shooter, by percentage, in Kawhi Leonard. The group turned the NBA on its ear by playing the LeBron James-led Miami Heat to a near-draw in 2013 prior to winning it all in 2014 by spreading the floor and whipping the ball around both inside and out. The Spurs can and will destroy you from 25 feet away.
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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, in what has become a familiar refrain, still contends that he cannot stand that infernal racket that is taped up both 22 and nearly 24 feet away from the goal.
“I still hate it,” Popovich said. “I’ll never embrace it. I don’t think it’s basketball. I think it’s kind of like a circus sort of thing. Why don’t we have a 5-point shot? A 7-point shot? You know, where does it stop, that sort of thing.
“But that’s just me, that’s just old-school. To a certain degree, you better embrace it or you’re going to lose. And every time we’ve won a championship, the 3-point shot was a big part of it. Because it is so powerful and you’ve gotta be able to do it. And nobody does it better than Golden State, and you know where they’re at. So it’s important. You can’t ignore it.”
Just in looking at the stats, you can tell how much Gregg Popovich really, truly, hates the 3-point line.
His Spurs give up the least amount of 3-pointers in the NBA, and they’re the best at defending the three-point line by percentage. Only two teams allow fewer 3-point attempts. The San Antonio Spurs defend the 3-point line as if it went out on three dates with Gregg Popovich’s sister, and then broke up with her via text.
Of course, the Spurs and Popovich aren’t idiots, and they know how useful and painless texts 3-pointers can be. San Antonio doesn’t bomb away from outside, they’re 23rd in attempts and 3-point makes this season, but they do hit for 36 percent of their shots from out there, good for eighth in the NBA.
Part of the attempts issue can be blamed on the team’s pace, sixth-slowest in the NBA, and you could chide the bearded man for his role in limiting what could be a brilliant offensive team – the Spurs are the league’s second best squad, but until last week they ranked out of the top 10 in offense. San Antonio’s Effective Field Goal percentage, however, is third in the NBA, and they current stand fifth in the NBA in overall offensive efficiency.
That is to say, San Antonio plays to its strengths. They took an average amount of 3-pointers both last year and the year before, they’ve employed Matt Bonner since the late 1970s, and if Danny Green (29 percent from deep this season, in comparison to his 41 percent career mark), Manu Ginobili (33 percent; 37 percent) and Rasual Butler (25 percent; 36 percent) get their acts together, the Spurs could challenge for a top-three mark from outside.
All with Coach Pop hating himself and the modern game he finds himself stuck in, every second of the way. No wonder this guy hoards so much wine.
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