Originally written March 21, 2013 on Project Spurs:
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The San Antonio Spurs have been doing relatively well without Tony Parker for these past few weeks and it seems the team may be getting primed for the playoffs. Tonight against the Golden State Warriors, the Spurs had to fight for their win and that's something that should be expected in the playoffs. For coach Gregg Popovich, that's one thing he'll be looking for in guard Nando De Colo. "I thought he was a really physical player tonight. He showed penchant to stick his nose in and played physically. He was very good in that regard and that's what we've been wanting to see from him," Popovich said after the win over the Warriors last night. "He's a smart player, we already know that," Popovich said about the rookie guard. "But he's got to be able to bang, hit and keep up with a physical game like it was tonight and the way it's going to be in the playoffs." De Colo and others have recently helped put away the notion that overseas players are "soft" and this is one game where it was especially true of Nando.  His fighting through screens and playing good defense on a team that averages 100 points. The Spurs will likely be seeing teams that depend on screen and rolls and, if he can play in the postseason like he did tonight, Nando will be a valuable asset to the team. The Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Oklahoma City Thunder are teams that are dependent on screens to get open shots for the team and they're all in the postseason as of right now. Nando's height and length will also prove to be valuable if he keeps up his play against smaller point guards. While Spurs fan may be weary of depending on first year European players and have flashbacks of a young Beno Udrih in silver and black during the postseason, Nando is more mature and has shown he's ready to play in the NBA since he stepped on the court. He's filled in for Parker and almost helped the team defeat the defending champion Miami Heat when the team sent their stars home. The encouraging parts of De Colo's game aren't only his decision making and ball handling, attributes that may compare him to Parker and Manu Ginobili, but he also plays with the passion and energy of Parker and Ginobili. That should be the main attribute that should help see him get playoff minutes this postseason and should brush off any worries about Nando's future minutes. His play is more of what Brent Barry brought to the Spurs, but we should be paying attention more to what De Colo does that doesn't come out in the box score for his true worth come playoff time.
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