Best Team in NBA; Bulls Or Spurs?
After winning 19 of 21 games the Bulls are nipping at the heels of the San Antonio Spurs for the league’s best record and home court advantage throughout the playoffs. The Spurs have been so dominant all year it’s hard to believe anyone could even be challenging them for the league’s best record. Considering how untouchable they’ve seemed it makes you re-evaluate the Spurs roster to see how they’ve been doing it in the first place. Put simply its “efficiency”.
Looking at the Spurs roster there isn’t much of a “wow” factor; you aren’t really that impressed by the names or numbers they put up. Really in a lot of ways they’re like the Patriots of the NBA because they win with the same core group of veteran players and come at opponents with a lot of depth.
What’s really interesting is how well they’ve done this year even while Tim Duncan is having the worst year of his career. This is the first year Duncan isn’t averaging a double-double and he’s playing a career low 28 minutes a game. Maybe it’s because they’ve been winning but why isn’t anyone making a bigger deal about his lack of production? Based on his numbers this season you’d have to assume were entering the twilight of his career. But even though his individual production is lacking, the Spurs keep winning which gives you a sense of how team oriented they are. Manu Ginobli is having his best season in three years and is averaging 17.6 ppg, the second highest of his career and he’s also averaging a career high five assists per game. Tony Parker scores 17.6 ppg, Richard Jefferson gets 11.1 ppg and beyond that the production is spread out amongst between five other players who get regular minutes and produce in limited time.
If San Antonio was a car they’d be a secure midsize sedan like a Ford Taurus, that is efficient and gets the most out of their offensive possessions and avoid mistakes with the ball. The Spurs are third in the NBA in terms of field goal percentage (.477%) but 17th in field goal attempts and are the best three point shooting team in the league though they’ve only taken the seventh most three point attempts. Also they are in the top third of the league in turnovers with the eighth lowest total in the NBA. What’s surprising is that for as efficient as they are they actually score a lot of points(103.8, sixth most in the NBA) which isn’t usually the case, i.e. New York Knicks.
For as efficient the Spurs are on offense, the Bulls are as good defensively. They hold opponents to the lowest field goal percentage in the NBA (.430%), the lowest three point percentage (.327%) and the second lowest points per game average at 91.3.
Offensively the Bulls are a team of young exciting players compared to the Spurs. Led by probable league MVP Derrick Rose the addition of Carlos Boozer has given the Bulls an inside presence to open things up on the perimeter and Rose has been the beneficiary, as has Luol Deng, averaging the second highest point total of his career. But for as young as the Bulls are they play with a level of patience that belies an older team. Tom Thibodeau has to win coach of the year for taking a .500 team from a year ago and coaching them into a number one seed, because other than the addition of Boozer and a few other free agents, this is the same team.
It’s rare that the two number one seeds from each conference actually meet in the Finals but if these teams are able it would be a great matchup of contrasting styles with the Bulls focus on defense and the Spurs focus on efficient offense.