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Saturday, January 18, 2014
Scouts Takes: Spurs best in West

By Marc Stein

Eastern Conference scout on the best team in the West at the regular-season midpoint:


“It’s the Spurs. And it’s not even close.

“There are only three teams that have a chance to win the championship [this season]: Miami, Indiana and San Antonio. I guess if [Russell] Westbrook comes back and they get on a roll, OKC can be in that mix. But assuming we don’t see any more major injuries, those are the only three teams you need to worry about.

“They look like the same ol' Spurs to me. I know you, Mr. Power Rankings, are going to tell me that they’ve lost a bunch of games to the other top teams. But they know how to approach the regular season. You might call it pacing themselves, but I’d just say they’re in their usual good rhythm. I’ve seen [Tim] Duncan a few times, and I don’t think there’s a whole lot of difference from last year to this year. And I’m pretty sure I saw a clip of [Gregg Popovich] jumping all over Tim’s butt the other day, so he’s still Pop.

“The one thing the Spurs are really missing is that Stephen Jackson or Michael Finley who can play the 4 when you’re going up against a team that plays real small. Kawhi Leonard is going to have to be that guy, but he still defers a lot when I’ve seen him. He was very good last year, but he hasn’t made as big a step as I was expecting.

“The other thing is Danny Green. He’s obviously hurt right now, but they need him to be more consistent than he has been. [Marco] Belinelli is an upgrade on what they had before, but Kawhi and Green are the keys ... as long as Duncan and [Tony] Parker and [Manu] Ginobili are healthy.”

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