Hollinger's PER Diem: Nov. 5, 2008
Are the Spurs falling off the top of the West pedestal or are they just off to a slow start? John Hollinger looks at their problems.
Everyone said last night was a historic evening, the kind that happens once a generation. They were correct: For the first time in 35 years, the Spurs fell to 0-3 after Tuesday's 98-81 loss to Dallas. What, you were thinking of something else?
John Hollinger takes a look at Wednesday's matchups and gives us five observations to look out for. Insider
• Mavs' shooting-guard shuffle
• Nets proving theory correct
• How does trade affect Detroit?
• One of the NBA's dirtiest players
• The Stephon Marbury situation
Here's the part where Spurs fans should really start worrying: Tony Parker is leading the league in PER, and Tim Duncan is third and yet the team still hasn't won a game. That's major red-flag territory, people -- San Antonio's two stars couldn't possibly be playing any better, and it hasn't been enough to get them even one win.
Ready to be shocked further? Try this: The Spurs are dead last in defensive efficiency. It's not a close dead last, either -- even lowly Sacramento ranks well ahead of them. Parker and Duncan are dominating and the team is second in the NBA in offensive efficiency, but the normally buttoned-down San Antonio D has been surrendering points with such ease that it hasn't mattered.
When the season started, the consensus was that San Antonio was trying to hang on until Manu Ginobili could return in early to mid-December (they hope) or late December (I suspect). But that perspective relies on the assumption that the Spurs are a quality defensive team that only needs Ginobili's added firepower to hang with the elite contenders. Through three games, they've been a completely different team from what we expected, and unless they get some stops, getting Ginobili back isn't going to make much of a difference.
John Hollinger writes for ESPN Insider. To e-mail him, click here.
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Hollinger's PER Diem
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