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Popovich wants Spurs to improve transition defense

Jason Miller/Getty Images

SAN ANTONIO -- Offensive chemistry generated headlines and conversations regarding the San Antonio Spurs over the summer, but coach Gregg Popovich admitted before Tuesday’s matchup against the Phoenix Suns that defense is the team’s emphasis in the preseason.

Namely transition defense, an area of deficiency that doomed the Spurs in the first round of last season's Western Conference playoffs.

“Transition D has still been a problem,” Popovich said. “Our transition D still looks like it did in Game 6 and 7 against the Clippers last [season] in the first round. Worst transition defense in the history of basketball in those two games.”

How bad was it? Well, the Clippers outscored the Spurs 33-4 on the break in Games 6 and 7.

“So it’s been an emphasis to start this season,” Popovich said. “Because if we’re gonna be one of the worst offensive-rebounding teams in the league, which we always are, we better be one of the best transition-defense teams. Usually we are. But we weren’t last year in general, and it really showed in the last couple of games in the Clippers series.”

The Spurs outscored the Sacramento Kings 19-17 on the break in the Oct. 8 preseason opener, but have been bested in that category by their other three opponents and have been outscored 82-65 through the first four games.

“That’s the whole truth and nothing but the truth. ‘Can you handle the truth?’, I ask the players,” Popovich said. “So then, we do what we do and try to take care of it, right?”