Most NBA teams that lose an MVP candidate and a top five player would struggle during his absence. But as the Spurs have proven time-and-time again, they are not most teams. Kawhi Leonard is out with an injured quad and hasn’t yet played this season. But San Antonio has started the year undefeated, beating the much improved Minnesota Timberwolves and down-trodden Chicago Bulls.

Tonight against Toronto, the Spurs maintained their model of consistency, playing solid defense and moving the ball on offense. The game was back and forth for three-and-a-half quarters, but San Antonio did what San Antonio often does, just win.

Spurs game MVP

Tony Parker is another Spurs starter out with an injury. The future Hall of Famer got hurt in last year’s playoffs, which opened up the door for Dejounte Murray. The second-year point guard is just 21-years old and making the most of his opportunity. Murray is uber-athletic and showed it tonight, weaving into the lane to score 16 points and skying for a game-high 15 rebounds. He added six assists for good measure.

The rest of the starters

LaMarcus Aldridge continued his resurgence this season with 20 points and eight rebounds. He even showed a little feistiness getting into it with Serge Ibaka in the fourth quarter. Shooting guard, Danny Green, also had a strong game, knocking down three three-pointers, scoring 17 points, and hauling in eight boards.

Kyle Anderson and Pau Gasol rounded out the starting lineup, combining for 11 points and 11 rebounds.

The bench players

Newly acquired Rudy Gay looks to have recovered from an Achilles tear that sidelined him most of last season. Winning eluded Gay during his time in Sacramento, but he has come out playing motivated, hungry, and fully recovered.

Against the Raptors, he scored 11 points and grabbed five boards. Joffrey Lauvergne and Manu Ginobili each chipped in nine points off-the-bench

Final thoughts

Since his arrival two years ago in free agency, LaMarcus Aldridge has been a major question mark for the Spurs. There had been rumors about San Antonio shopping him on the trade market, so it was a surprise to nearly everyone when Aldridge signed a contract extension just before the opener.

Apparently, Aldridge and Coach Popovich had a tete-a-tete this off-season, where each got to air their grievances. And while Popovich agreed to make some modifications to the offense, Aldridge needed to step up his performance, which he has thus far.

Aldridge has come out this season aggressive, hunting for shots, and being active on the defensive end. Nobody puts the Spurs in the category of the Warriors, Thunder, or Rockets, but a high-level of play from Aldridge is essential for them to get there.