Once the papers are signed and both players and owners shake hands and smile for the cameras, the NBA lockout will be over and the 2011-2012 NBA season will reportedly kick off on Christmas Day.
Many NBA and Spurs fans are rejoicing as now they will get to see their favorite team return to the hardwood just in time for the holiday season.
San Antonio Spurs’ Manu Ginobili recently spoke with the Argentine press (via El Diario 24) on the end of the lockout and stated he missed everything NBA and is glad to see the end of the labor impasse.
However, when it came to the shortened 66-game season, Manu was quick to say such a season will be difficult. In particular, he feels the rigors of a shortened NBA season will be magnified with four to five games in a week.
“Before it was three games (per week). No doubt you will have to have good preparation, but we do not have much time to train. It’s going to be an atypical season.”
Ginobili is spot-on in his assessment of the shortened season but for the Spurs’ main core, it will have its pros and cons.
As Manu said, the weekly games will be increased thus adding more wear-and-tear on the aging core of Manu, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. Not to mention the amount of back-to-back games the Spurs will have in store in the new schedule.
And health is key with this core.
Last season, Spurs fans witnessed how important Ginobili was once he went down with an elbow injury late in the season and how the Spurs suffered with his loss versus the Memphis Grizzlies in the playoffs in the games he sat out.
However, a short season might play into the Spurs’ hands. Less game will mean less mileage on the Spurs’ “Big 3” which could lead to them peaking at the right time heading into the playoffs. Not to mention, the roster as a whole is quite young. Players such as Kawhi Leonard, DeJuan Blair, James Anderson, and Tiago Splitter make up the periphery of the squad and all should help alleviate pressure off the “Big 3.”
One thing to watch for is how well Parker and Ginobili will perform down the stretch of the season. Both played over the summer with their respective national team at EuroBasket 2011 and the 2011 FIBA Americas tournament and Parker had been playing for French club ASVEL-Villeurbanne during the lockout. Not to mention Parker’s recent shoulder pain which caused his to sit out a game for ASVEL. Add this to the fast-pace of a 66-game season and you got yourself an issue in the making the Spurs can do without should both players run out of gas at the wrong time.
Yes it will be an atypical season but the Spurs do have an ace up their sleeve: Gregg Popovich.
Pop has been here before back in 1999 and there will be no doubt he will have this team well prepared.