Rob Foldy/USA TODAY
The Magic are trying to copy the Spurs. There is really no way around that. From Rob Hennigan, a former Spurs intern) to Jacque Vaughn (a former Spurs player and assistant coach), the team wants to find a way to copy the sustained success the Spurs have had from the last decade. It goes from the culture the team is building to the personnel the Magic have brought in to establish it.
Tonight, the Magic get their first look at the Spurs this season. It is master vs. padowan tonight as Gregg Popovich and his defending Western Conference champions come to Orlando the night after Thanksgiving.
Since we are learning how to do things the "Spurs way," it seemed like the perfect time to turn to our good friends at Project Spurs and check in on how the Spurs are doing and hope their wisdom basks off on us. I chatted with Michael Rehome of Project Spurs to help preview this game:
Philip Rossman-Reich, Orlando Magic Daily: It is safe to say nobody thought the Spurs would be able to jump out of the gates so quickly after the way they lost in the Finals. How has Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan and company circled the wagons early on this season to get the most out of his team (again)?
Michael Rehome, Project Spurs: This is what makes the San Antonio Spurs and their organization so accomplished. As you stated, many teams coming off of a finals as the Spurs had, just seconds away from winning their fifth title, you would think they would not start the season as they have thus far. Popovich had shown the tapes to [Tim] Duncan and company to give them more fuel to the fire so-to-speak. Popovich is a great motivator. He knows what his players can do, each and every one of them. When the organization re-signed and brought back the core players, I just had that feeling that they (Spurs) wanted to get back to that place and bring home what was there.
Every player on this team knows their role. There is not one that will go out and try to overtake a game on his own. They all let it come to them. [The players] know who runs the team and where the offense is going to work through and that is [Tony] Parker. We have to remember how long Parker has been with the Spurs and how he has come through down the stretch for this team and has every year improved and been in the MVP talks.
Pop lets his players play. No matter who you are, if you mess up, you better believe he is going to come down on you. Maybe that is why they are playing well right now. Ha.
OMD: The Magic are trying to build things up in much the same way the Spurs and Thunder have built things up. Do you see any similarities in their approach with the current Magic roster? What is the secret to the Spurs never-ending success?!
PS: I really like what I am seeing from the Orlando Magic. Picking up an explosive player in Victor Oladipo was great. I watched him throughout the summer leagues and frankly the kid is already a star and he will only get better. The Magic have themselves some good pieces in place. I think bringing Hedo Turkoglu was a good move as well. He was wi;th the team when their ceiling seemed to be pretty high when [Dwight] Howard was there. Sorry for dropping that name on you.
It will take some time and with that and patience the Magic will get there.
Well Philip that is a secret, if I told you then everyone will know, right? Ha. I honestly feel that the secret to the success of the Spurs would have to be that each player knows what is expected out of them. This goes back to your first question that I answered. There is not one player out there that wants to take over the game, or tries to in that matter. Every single player on the Spurs whether it be the starters or the bench players know exactly where to be and what needs to happen. The ball movement and spacing plays a big, big part. When you have big men that can pass the way the Spurs do, it opens up the floor more and more for cutters and back-door cuts as well.
Another main piece would have to be having trust in one another.
OMD: What is the next step for the Spurs? Is Kawhi Leonard going to usher in continued and sustained success for the Spurs when the Big Three inevitably moves on to retirement?
PS: I think it is obvious what the next step for the Spurs will be. Continue to develop their players not only on their current roster but in their developmental affiliate as well. Leonard is in fact going to be the future of the team. Many know and see this coming. Popovich is so high on him that it is only a matter of time when he really breaks out. In the Finals he made his name known being pitted with LeBron James. He is always up for the challenge against oppositions top players. I think he will take on that challenge of being the player that will be looked at to continue the success of the team once the big three happen to retire.
OMD: What are the keys to beating the Spurs this year (granted, not easy to do)?
PS: Score more points then them. I know pretty obvious. I think that some of the keys for beating the Spurs is do what you can in getting the ball out of the hands of Tony Parker. Parker continues to find his way into the paint and make life miserable for opponents. He is hard to stop on the break as he is so quick. Most teams in the past, I'll go back to the Finals, they put their bigger defender on him while letting the others on the team try and beat them. You want to take the ball out of the hands of the player that makes the engine run. Easier said than done I know.
Don't leave shooters. San Antonio has a handful of guys that can shoot from beyond the arc. What gives the Spurs a big advantage on teams is when Parker penetrates in the lane it makes the other defenders collapse which then leaves the shooters open. This to me is what hurts opponents.
So stop Parker, don't leave shooters and you will be fine.
OMD: This is a two-parter –> What is your favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal? And YouTube me a clip of your favorite Spurs HEB ad (the secret delight of Spurs games on League Pass).
PS: My favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is actually preparing it. I have a tradition with just my family (wife and kids) and I start the Turkey on Wednesday night and slowly cook it throughout the night so that it is ready around lunch time when football starts. Don't get me wrong, the eating part is great too, but actually preparing it and getting the kids involved is a great feeling.
My favorite HEB thus far would have to be the one when Leonard makes his debut. Who knew he could talk!?
OMD: Thanks a bunch to Michael for taking some time out during Thanksgiving Week. We look forward to more HEB commercials and tonight's game agaisnt the Spurs.
Happy Thanksgiving once again everyone!