You've heard it all before about these San Antonio Spurs.
They are an old team that has gotten another year older. They get closer and closer each year to finally getting figured out by the rest of the league, or at least by some of the other premier teams. Bruce Bowen has lost a step. Or steps. Tim Duncan is playing the least statistically productive basketball of his career. The bench isn't really all that strong. They haven't been dominant early on this season. The list goes on.
So perhaps it bears noting that the Spurs continued what has become the best start in franchise history by advancing to 17-3 with another win last night.
That win came over the Utah Jazz, one of the Western Conference's finest teams. The one on Wednesday night came over the Dallas Mavericks, the Spurs' toughest competition in the Southwest Division for the last several years. Both of said wins came without all-world power forward Tim Duncan. Fifteen other wins have come with Duncan playing at far from his highest level, averaging career lows of 17.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.
And none of this -- or anything, really -- seems to phase this team. No TD against the Mavs? Fair enough. Ginobili and Parker will just go for 60 together instead. TD off to a slow start? No problem. Parker will simply play out of his mind, going for 20.3 points and 6.8 dimes per game thus far in the young season. Not enough scoring firepower? Manu will score 20 a night off the bench. Done, done and done.
It feels like I write this type of column about this particular team on a weekly basis sometimes, but the truth is that they deserve it seven days a week. This is the embodiment of the word 'team.' Fifteen ball players, a coaching staff and a front office are all singularly dedicated to one goal, and they never lose focus. Ever. And every year their story becomes more and more amazing. They are smarter than everyone else. They work harder than everyone else. And they really get it more than anyone else.
It doesn't matter if Bowen has lost a little bit on his individual defense, because the Spurs play great help defense, because they are a team.
It doesn't matter if Duncan's regular season production is down a bit, because the Spurs are a team. Parker and Manu can step up, and Pop can play TD a career low of 32.3 minutes per game, making it all the more likely that he will be fresh come playoff time.
It isn't a deal-breaker that other teams around the conference are young and more athletic than the Spurs, because the Spurs are one. Because the Spurs as a collective unit know how to slow the pace of a game (only the Pistons play a slower game) and how to make sure they move the ball offensively and help each other enough defensively in order to make every possession on both sides of the ball count.
The term that has been used most often with regard to this team is "brutally efficient." For a team that ranks first in offensive efficiency and eighth in defensive efficiency (and many Spurs boosters will tell you that the D has looked porous at many times throughout the young season), the label fits perfectly.
Chances are, most of this isn't anything you don't know.
But that doesn't make it any less incredible to take a minute to sit back and think about how much this team manages to accomplish what it does on such a regular basis.
Mundane, boring, uninteresting, a turn-off: Call the Spurs' style whatever you want.
But don't forget to call it beautiful either.