What happened to the Spurs?

With the Mavericks’ 106-93 Game 5 win in San Antonio, it is the first time that Tim Duncan has lost a first round series. Tony Parker shot 55% from the field, and averaged 28.6 points, 6.8 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. Battling sore knees, Duncan still shot 53% from the field, averaging 19.8 points and 8.0 rebounds. Normally, those kinds of numbers from the Spurs’ top two players would result in a series win. What happened?

1. No supporting cast.
Manu Ginobili was out. Duh. But the rest of the Spurs failed to step up in his absence. Parker and Duncan combined to shoot 100 of 185 (54%) in the series, which means everyone not named Tim or Tony combined to make just 75 of their 198 attempts (38%). Roger Mason shot 42% from long range during the season, but made just 37% in the series. The midseason addition of Drew Gooden was a bust; he averaged just 7.3 points and 3.8 rebounds, and shot 33% from the field. Without Ginobili, there wasn’t a third scorer to take the pressure off of Parker and Duncan.

2. Mediocre defense.
The Mavs averaged 96.4 points per game, shot better than 46% from the field and better than 38% from long range during the series. Now those numbers are by no means eye-popping, but they are very un-Spurs-like. San Antonio just couldn’t get the consistent stops it needed to make up for its overall lack of scoring. Josh Howard and Dirk Nowitzki were both stellar, while J.J. Barea and Brandon Bass played great off the bench when Dallas needed it.

The Spurs head into the summer with zero cap space, but with the fiscal state of the league, they’ll have a good opportunity to add a quality player at the mid-level exception, assuming they want to spend the money. My guess is that they will, given that Tim Duncan’s championship window continues to get smaller and smaller. The team is fine in the backcourt, with Parker, Ginobili, Mason and George Hill. They need help on the wing and in the frontcourt, so the priority will likely be a big man. Rasheed Wallace’s name has been floated, but Zaza Pachulia, Anderson Varejao, Brandon Bass, Chris Andersen and Antonio McDyess are cheaper options.

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