Most Spurs fans got their first look at their team's 2019-20 version on Tuesday. Those who hoped to discover something new or unexpected in this iteration were probably disappointed. The same strengths and weaknesses that San Antonio seemed to have in theory showed in a loss of 107-89 against the heat, which taught few new lessons.
There were no surprises from the beginning. With all the veterans available, Gregg Popovich gave us some insight into the anticipated grid for this year, when DeMar DeRozan joined Bryn Forbes, Dejounte Murray, LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl. Concerns over an obvious lack of shots from this group were at least partially dispelled when San Antonio set up a pick-and-pop three-pointer from Aldridge for the second year in a row on its first offensive. To get this unit up and running, the big man has to expand his reach and take on a slightly different role, to which, fortunately, he seems to be ready.
Beyond a solid, if somewhat anachronistic, starter It is expected that the depth at the edge is one of the spurs' greatest strengths. San Antonio can offer many different combinations, all with their unique identity. Pop was anxious to try out many of these units. Patty Mills started the second half, while Forbes iced his thigh on the bench and gave the grid more aggressiveness. Marco Belinelli had the first shift from the bench in the first half, but it was also Lonnie Walker IV and DeMarre Carroll's turn. All showed enough skill to point out that the fight for the season with a small substitute striker is far from over and it will be fascinating to see them all throughout the preseason. Some of the problems that plagued Spurs on Tuesday, such as A lack of crime, turnovers and missed rotations can be attributed to normal pre-season problems. Others, such as a fight for the rebound with only one big opponent, a lack of volume from the outside and a too small size in the front seats, could also be in the team at the beginning of the season. Fortunately, nothing seemed unrecoverable, which is encouraging, as San Antonio continues to find a rotation that works.
We did not hear anything new about the Spurs in the preseason, but that's fine. So far, they look like the talented, flawed and deep team we knew it would be. This is not necessarily exciting, but certainly reassuring.
- LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan did not have any great shooting nights and looked a bit rusty, but they still did a bit of everything. These two are absolutely solid, so you do not have to worry.
- Dejounte Murray looks more aggressive than ever. He showed his ability to get to the rim and finish in the second half, after trying to position others, especially in the first two quarters. He missed his only three-point attempt, but met a midfield jumper. His defense was a bit sloppy, but that's understandable, considering it's his second game after missing a season. Encouraging performance of the young guard.
- At the other end of the spectrum, Derrick White looked uneasy throughout the game and ended the night with a point and the same number of sales he made as a template. Maybe his struggles in the first two preps are related to fatigue after a busy summer. Maybe it takes a while for his rhythm to come off the bench. Whatever the reason, luckily he still has time to find his game before the season starts.
- DeMarre Carroll celebrated his debut in silver and black and looked like the epitome of his glue. He will never play top games, but he moves the ball, shoots when open, and tries to defend himself. For obvious reasons, Carroll sometimes seemed a bit lost, but he should be a good match.
- The spurs needed only 13 three-pointers, which is embarrassingly low. Bryn Forbes made his contribution by starting a pair and connecting with one, but Patty Mills and Marco Belinelli each only managed a three-pointer lead. Pop has to find ways to make her look open, best by moving her a lot more off the ball. In particular, Patty deals with it a bit too much, rather than trying to open up in the weak side. He had a good game, but that's probably not his ideal role for the future.
- The only small but pleasant surprise was that San Antonio accelerated the pace. They have the players to do it, especially when they get small and play four people who can run after saving the board. Rapid attacks can at least partially offset punctual shots so they continue to search for transitional opportunities.
Next Game: Vs. Pelicans on Sunday
Zion Williamson awaits. The Pelicans like to run, so it will be interesting to see if the Spurs, who stood defensively on the defensive, can keep up. It should be fun.