This is all opinion, but in it, it's going to be mixed in with facts. Be Forewarned.
I hate the Spurs. I've hated them for decades, and the only thing that has changed over time is that I respect the heck out of them now. This hate has been brewing since long before David Robinson's head fouled Karl Malone's elbow. This respect has been earned from me through their hard work. But still, I hate them. Perhaps part of it is that you hate something in someone who most reminds you of yourself. A few different bounces here or there, and it's our small market team dominated by a strong willed coach who has championship banners, and not them. This isn't a case of sour grapes either. The Spurs play the right way, are a defense first organization, where no one player is bigger than the system. They've consistently won despite other teams being more highly regarded, and thrived in a small market. Really, the similarities between the two franchises are there.
There are two main differences though. The first is that the Spurs really did tank one year to get Duncan, while Sloan is too honor bound to ever do something like that. And second, while the Jazz are the locomotive slowly building up steam and momentum over a game, month, season or decade -- the Spurs are a virus. They have some of the components to do damage but they are highly underrated in their ability to lay dormant, then mutate/evolve and come back even more dangerous despite whatever immunity you built up to their tricks.
This Spurs team (you know they are 9-1 this season so far, but no one talks about them) is not the same one the Jazz swept last season. This is an altogether new one. And that makes me hate them even more.
They are one year older, Tony is in some crazy off-court stuff, and they shouldn't be winning all these games. I know, right? This isn't the same old Spurs though. They are second in the NBA in points per game at 108.3. They are not even in the top 5 in pace though, so all your Golden States out there who make it a track meet are ahead of them. The Spurs win (and score) not by running up and down, but by being efficient. Maybe you're not blown away by their 46.8 fg% ... but you should be deadly aware of their 44.2 3pt%. You don't get a team shooting percentage that high from luck or a hot streak. You get that high a percentage from good ball movement, unselfishness, and talent. This Spurs team is talented - something we may overlook.
The numbers don't lie either. Tim Duncan is the 4th highest scorer on the team so far. If Tim Duncan is the 4th best scorer (in terms of ppg) that means the team is reversing the ball really well to find the open guy when he's doubled. Moving past the three guys scoring 17+ ppg, and moving past 4th best scorer Tim Duncan, the Spurs have 6 different guys scoring between 10 and 6 points per game. That means everyone can at the very least keep you honest on defense. Not only does this force other teams to defend everyone, but it also is a testament to the Spurs front office in finding depth despite not being a huge FA destination.
As a point of reference do you know how many Jazz players are scoring in between 6 points and 10 points a game? Two: C.J. Miles and Raja Bell. And both are banged up, Miles may not even play. I love Kyrylo Fesenko and Gordon Hayward - perhaps dangerously so - but between them they aren't even averaging 6 points together.
It's more than just scoring and having a bench that makes you pay for not defending them that makes the Spurs a good team, though. It is, really, their mutation / evolution from season to season. Despite not having a real 'twin towers' solution on defense this year the Spurs have their best defensive rating since their West Finals / NBA Finals days this season. When you couple that with their highest offensive rating in the entire Popovich era you have a really solidly playing team right now. You have to scratch your head and question, how?
Their "Ego" defense is great. They force the big stud from the other team into taking a lot of shots - this even means letting him feel 'good' and 'hot' during the first half. This guy continues to take shots while the rest of the team gets shut down. We used to do this against Shaq. The Spurs evolved this defensive tactic and are able to get it done against guys with much smaller egos than Shaq. Roy Hibbert took 17 shots against the Spurs in a loss. So did Eric Gordon. Nash took 22 shots in a loss to the Spurs as well. Scola took 16 in a loss. D.J. Augustin took 15 in a loss. Jrue Holiday took 17 in a loss. Durant took 23 in a loss. Derrick Rose took 27 in a loss.
Except in a few occasions the disparity between on guy chucking up shots and the rest of the team standing around is really, absurdly (abSpurdsly?) high.
There is more too it than this simple observation, but right now the Spurs tactic is to break the other team from running their plays by leading the other team into playing non-team ball. We'll see how well this play out against our guys tonight. We love to pass and share the ball. Something's gotta give.
What about the Spurs offense? What's making them click to the tune of scoring nearly 110 a game? Part of it has to be that they've played a lot of teams that don't play defense. In the one game where they played in Charlotte they scored 95 points. Our poorly performing (on offense) team managed to score 96 against the very same Bobcats in their gym. Anecdotal digs aside, the Spurs are getting it done by running hard and getting contributions all over the box score. They are less predictable than in previous seasons, and they don't run the same 'dump it into Duncan and wait' offense that they may limit themselves to in the playoffs. San Antonio isn't living at the line either, unlike some other teams, right Oklahoma? The Spurs are, plainly, just making their shots.
And in a game where only the final score matters, that makes me hate them even more.