We’ve yet to see the real San Antonio Spurs this season, not the team which roared to the NBA title last June.
But it would be a good time for them to show up tonight, when they take a visit to a Los Angeles Clippers team with intentions of usurping their crown.
The Spurs are just 2-3 so far and although some of that early sluggishness can be explained by injuries to Tiago Splitter, Patty Mills and, latterly, Marco Belinelli, there has been a touch of lethargy that is hard to fathom.
Perhaps, one would sense, the hunger has dropped with one more championship to their credit. Yet San Antonio – still 4.75 second favourites to emerge on top this term – had a game for the taking on Saturday when they led the New Orleans Pelicans into the final possession but, uncharacteristically, threw it away.
Their offensive output has dropped to just 92.8 points, a staggering drop of 11.3 points gained per 100 possessions from last season, with their defence virtually untouched.
And bottom of the class is Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who has notched only 9.5 points per game, making little case for the lucrative new contract he badly desires.
San Antonio are 2.20 to beat the Clippers but LA’s top team, despite their 4-2 start, have also stumbled out of the blocks by giving up 0.5 more points than they’ve scored on average.
Blake Griffin has, however, looked solid and without Splitter to assist Duncan, he could push above his current clip of 24.5 per night, a haul that could tilt the overall points total above 205.5, available at 2.23.
Don’t write off the Spurs just yet but these are hardly encouraging signs for the champions.
Best bet: Take the Clippers on the handicap of -4.5 against the Spurs at 2.15.