Veteran Significance Shinning Through
It’s April, and the NBA playoffs are starting next month, and some teams that you may not expect to be hot, are indeed burning up the league. The San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics are a couple teams that come to mind. Two teams rich in experience from the end of their bench to their head coach and the starting five.
The Spurs should have ended their playoff tear years ago! But yet, here they are. Greg Popovich has kept his core group of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker fresh and in great condition. All season long they have been flying so low under the radar and yet the find themselves at the top of the western conference (as of April 17th). One of the reasons the Spurs have done so well this season, is not because of the All-star season from Parker, or the re-birth of the “Big Fundamental” it is because of their excellent bench play and experience. Even though Gary Neal is technically a sophomore, he is 28 years young and is providing just what the Spurs need off of the bench. Also, by having rookie Kawhi Leonard starting at the three spot and getting excellent minutes from him, It allows Boris Diaw who they recently acquired at the trade deadline, to come off the bench and provide an in and out game. Diaw bring experience and size to the second unit, while Leonard offers youth and energy which this aging starting group desperatly needs. Furthermore, because the Spurs have so many options, Popovich has the luxury to rest any of his big three for certain games. San Antonio averages just over 102 points per game which is good enough for third in the league, while only allowing 96 a game. That is probably why they have been wining 73 percent of their games.
The other team that has been spotlighted recently is the even older Boston Celtics. Led by their Big four of Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett the Celtics have become the true beast in the east. After a horrible start to the season, the C’s have bounced back BIG. Mostly due to the play of their point guard. Rondo has been on a tear of late, leading the league in assists and bringing this Celtics team back to life. Also, when veteran sharp shooter Ray Allen came back from injury, he told head coach Doc Rivers that he feels it would be better if he came in off the bench as a part of the second unit and let Avery Bradley, the second year guard out of Texas, continue to start in his place. Now, Allen is the first option in the second unit and the young Bradley who is a better defender, can guard players like Dwayne Wade and Kobe Bryant, while getting out and running with Rondo thus opening up the trailer (usually Pierce) on the wing. The upcoming schedule for the Celtics should prove as and excellent test to this teams true talent. With games against the Magic, Heat, Knicks, Hawks and Bucks these next two weeks will be very interesting.
If there is one thing that I have learned through watching these teams, is that you should never count them out. The Spurs are capable of dismantling any team in the NBA. The Celtics are much the same, they have beaten the Heat in both its previous meetings and against the Bulls, the tandem of Bradley and Rondo in the backcourt will prove a tough task for Derrick Rose and the Bulls. Who knows, we may end up seeing an all senior NBA final between the Celtics and Spurs.