The San Antonio Spurs are perhaps the most successful franchise of the last 15 years. If any team in professional sports can outduel father time, it is the San Antonio Spurs. For yet another NBA season, the Spurs are at the top of the Western Conference standings.
At 55-16, the Spurs currently hold the best record in the league and have a three game lead on the Oklahoma City Thunder for first in the West. Like most NBA years of the past, people seem to expect the Spurs to fall off. They are old, tired and plagued with injuries. Well, as per usual the Spurs organizations are putting those critics to rest.
After their crushing loss in the finals last year, again it was expected that the Spurs would not be able to recover for this NBA season. Well, here the Spurs sit currently riding a league high 15 game win streak at the top of the NBA standings with just a few weeks left to go in the regular season.
Again, head coach Gregg Popovich has guided his team to 50+ victories while monitoring the minutes on Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker, to ensure that they are well rested for another playoff run.
The San Antonio Spurs and playoffs have become synonymous with one another. The last time the San Antonio Spurs were not part of the NBA playoffs was the 1996-97 season. That was one year before Tim Duncan joined the team and won rookie of the year.
For the 17th consecutive season, Gregg Popovich and the Spurs will be looking to make a deep run in the playoffs, but this time they will be looking to avenge the franchises only NBA finals loss.
Player to Watch in the Playoffs
The Spurs are one of the few teams in the league that have two former finals MVP’s on their roster. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker both have had the honor of being named finals MVP, but it is another veteran on the team who will be the most important factor for the Spurs in the playoffs.
The other member of the San Antonio “Big 3”, Manu Ginobili has been huge for the Spurs in the playoffs throughout his career. However, last year Ginobili struggled at key moments in the playoffs. In game 6 against Miami, where the Spurs had a chance to clinch their fifth NBA title, Ginobili had 9 points and 8 turnovers.
Last year Ginobili averaged just 11.8 points per game on 42.5 percent shooting, which were his lowest scoring totals since his rookie campaign. Ginobili dealt with a variety of hamstring injuries last year, and this year he is said to be feeling healthy. This year Ginobili is still only averaging 12.4 points per game, but he is scoring at a much more efficient pace on 46.6 percent shooting. The Spurs will need Ginobili to wind back the clock for them to make another run at the NBA finals.
How Does Their Season End
As of today the San Antonio Spurs would face the Phoenix Suns in the opening round of the playoffs. The Spurs experience would lead them past a young Suns squad, but expect San Antonio to be upset in the second round.
Teams like Houston, Los Angeles, Golden State, and Oklahoma have not tasted an NBA title in recent years. They have not had the sustained excellence that the Spurs have had. Although the Spurs will be looking to avenge their finals loss to the Heat, other up and coming teams will be hungrier for an NBA championship.
All eight playoff teams in the Western Conference currently have 43 or more wins, so there is no doubt that the journey to the finals through the West will be a true battle.
NBA Daily is a daily series providing commentary, predictions, and analysis of events surrounding the NBA.
Commentary By Eric Kummel