The San Antonio Spurs have been one of the best teams, year after year, ever since the addition of Tim Duncan in 1997. Since drafting the the power forward out of Wake Forest, the Spurs are yet to miss the playoffs.
Even as the team grows older, the veteran Spurs continue to be one of the best teams in the West. Last year, the team finished with the second-best record in the league, and the best in the West.
However, after entering the playoffs as the top seed, the Spurs' run was cut short as they were embarrassed by the No. 8-seeded Memphis Grizzlies.
Their age gave way to health problems that ultimately decided the series, as the more youthful Grizzlies advanced to take on the Thunder.
Well, after being left out of contender discussions prior to the start of the season, the Spurs are at it again, currently sporting the second-best record in the West.
However, last year's results show that no matter how successful their regular season is, the playoffs are a completely different story.
After last year's postseason journey was cut short, many people began wondering if the Spurs' time had reached its end.
The once unstoppable dynasty is growing older, and in a league with such young superstars, many worry whether the veteran team has what it takes to make a postseason run.
Duncan and Manu Ginobili have added one more year to their ages, but this year's playoff trip will have an entirely different outcome.
While Duncan and Ginobili may be nearing the end of their careers, the rest of the team is fairly young. Tony Parker is only 29, and the other stars are even younger.
The team has added a few more players to the roster this season, which will help provide depth in case the veterans require a rest.
Kawhi Leonard, the rookie small forward who has recently found his way into the starting lineup, has proved to be a true star. His hustle and youth help keep him on the court for awhile without needing rest.
At the end of last season, Duncan was the only true big man with talent on the Spurs' roster. However, Tiago Splitter has shined thus far into the season, showing fans that he was worth his wait.
DeJuan Blair too has stepped up this season. Despite his height disadvantage, Blair has become a rebounding machine and a prime contributor to the team's offensive success.
The newly acquired Boris Diaw also provides depth in the frontcourt, allowing the Spurs to survive during minutes in which Duncan needs a rest.
Ginobili has been accounted for as well. During his extended absences, Danny Green has stepped up and helped the team both on the defensive and offensive ends. Now that Ginobili is healthy, Green has maintained the starting spot, giving Ginobili the familiar role of sixth man.
Also providing depth at the shooting guard position is Stephen Jackson. By trading for the ex-Spur on deadline-day, the Spurs added an experienced veteran whose abilities make him a strong backup option if Ginobili were to need a breather or become injured.
The team has also changed up its play style, as they look to stray their focus from the defensive end to the offensive end. While their defense was their prime contributor in their four championships, the man in the middle, Duncan, is no longer the threat he once was.
After being stepped on by the Grizzlies' duo of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, the team was finally given a reality check and forced to change their style.
With a new play style and a bench that Duncan calls the deepest of his career, the San Antonio Spurs seem poised to make another strong run at a title.
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