Death, taxes and the San Antonio Spurs winning basketball games — those are the only certainties in life these days. The Spurs are red hot as always and sit in second place in the Western Conference with a 19-5 record, but it’s not all smiles around San Antonio as one might assume.
Spurs TV’s pre and post game host Andrew Monaco joined Scott Ferrall, host of CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall On The Bench to discuss the Spurs’ hot start but also their disappointment with the way they’ve been winning games.
“They might be winning, but they might not be happy with how they’re winning,” Monaco said. “Are they skipping steps, are they getting away with it? Recently they’ve been digging a hole for themselves early and then having to come back. They want to correct those mistakes because the wins are great but they feel like they can advance. I think this is a team that looks itself in the mirror and says ‘we can get better.’ The wins are satisfying in that winning is always better than losing, but can we get better? And I think because they’re so honest with themselves, they’re not going to sit and say ‘everything’s good, we’re 19-5, how can we get better?'”
One of the biggest reasons the Spurs continue to win even when they do struggle stems from their “refuse to lose” mentality that they’ve exemplified time and time again in the Gregg Popovich era, and one notable player that exhibits it more often than others.
“Especially Kawhi (Leonard),” Monaco explained. “I can think of the night, end of November, they’re in Dallas not playing well — in fact it was after the Magic loss — and they get off to the same slow start and you could just see in Kawhi that he refuses to lose. ‘What do I have to do to’ — what do we have to do, to tell you the truth — ‘to get back to playing that game?’
Leonard has been tremendous this season, averaging 24.7 points per game — well above his career average of 15 — while also continuing to be the best defender in the NBA.
“Kawhi has never been more confident than he’s been this year,” Monaco said. “A lot of it is what he has done in the summer, just taking shot after shot after shot. It’s a combination of things that he’s done throughout his first six years.”
Along with Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge is another big-name player that has adopted that mentality in his second year with the team.
“I’m thinking of their win in Milwaukee,” Monaco said. “They’re struggling in Milwaukee, but the play of LaMarcus Aldridge — the plays that LaMarcus made — the offensive rebounds, the taking it strong to the hole; the game-winning shot is actually a goaltend by Giannis Antetokounmpo. But I think it was LaMarcus Aldridge saying ‘something has to change here’ and then he went strong to the rim and he made the defensive play at the end.”