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The Starting 5: Don’t Forget About the Spurs

Soobum Im/USA TODAY Sports

The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet 

1. Spurs Defense a Blast From the Past — Jesus Gomez, BBALLBREAKDOWN

While the Warriors have only lost one game, the San Antonio Spurs have arguably been just as impressive. Their defense has been far better than any in recent years and harks back to a different era of basketball. Jesus Gomez digs into what’s made the Spurs’ defense so effective this season. It’s a great breakdown of how they’re excelling and an explanation of why it’s so unexpected in today’s NBA.

2. In Toronto, hometown hero Cory Joseph makes a name for himself — James Herbert, CBS Sports

The Spurs are thriving despite the loss of defensive-minded point guard Cory Joseph, whose game has continued to develop as a member of his hometown team. James Herbert goes deep on Joseph’s roots in the Toronto area; Raptors fans are thrilled to have a local kid on the roster. It doesn’t hurt that Joseph has played extremely well backing up and alongside All-Star Kyle Lowry. This is a great profile of an emerging young player in a great situation.

3. The Celtics are good except when they’re not — Paul Flannery, SB Nation

The Celtics have had an up and down season, but they’ve mostly been a pretty good team. Paul Flannery takes stock of the Boston squad after an odd week in which they took Golden State to the wire, notched an impressive win in Charlotte, then suffered two discouraging losses. It’s hard to disagree with Flannery’s assessment: as currently constructed, the Celtics are a flawed but talented team that has little upside in the playoffs. The addition of one key piece could forever change that, but Boston remains searching.

4. Jimmy Butler sets tone for uncertain future with Fred Hoiberg, teammates — Nick Friedell, ESPN

After another disheartening Bulls loss, Jimmy Butler had some interesting words for the media:

“I believe in the guys in this locker room, yeah…but I also believe that we probably have to be coached a lot harder at times. I’m sorry. I know Fred’s a laid-back guy and I really respect him for that, but when guys aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do, you got to get on guys. Myself included. You got to do what you’re supposed to do when you’re out there playing basketball.”

Nick Friedell tries to find the truth behind these surprising comments, as Butler openly called out coach Fred Hoiberg for all to hear. There’s some intriguing subtext, but it’s hard to imagine either Hoiberg or Butler going anywhere anytime soon.

5. Salary Value Rating — Neil Johnson, Nylon Calculus

As part of Nylon Calculus’s Freelance Friday series, Neil Johnson shares a new metric he’s designed that intends to measure player salaries against their production. It’s an interesting concept, as he also includes a factor to include the percentage of total minutes played. For last season, James Harden, Chris Paul and Stephen Curry graded out at the top. That’s always a good sign.

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