San Antonio Spurs: The Three Biggest Questions Regarding Title Hopes Answered
What are the chances?
With only three games left in the season, the Spurs again have put themselves in position to earn another title, which would be their fifth in 13 years.
Since the Tim Duncan era, there have not been many teams that have had as much success as the Spurs.
In fact, no team in any major sport in North America as been as successful as the Spurs in the last 15 years.
All sports top winning record percentages in last 15 years: Spurs - 69.9%, NFL Patriots - 69.1%, MLB Yankees - 60.3%, NHL Red wings - 59.7%
With all the success the Spurs have been having, the majority of sports analysts continue to believe the favorites for this year's title are either the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls or Oklahoma City Thunder. Among the analysts, even the Los Angeles Lakers get more support than the Spurs.
Why then are the Spurs consistently under the radar?
Here are the three biggest reasons.
And why they are all wrong.
1. "The Spurs Are Too Old"
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
When you think of the Spurs, you think of Tim Duncan.
And when people think of Duncan, you can't help but think of his age and how much he has left in the tank.
Quite frankly, Manu Ginobili is no rookie either.
Tim and Manu, now at 35 and 34 years of age, respectively, are the two oldest players on the team, who happen to also be two of the best players on the Spurs.
So I get why people consider the Spurs old.
However, let's clear things up.
First, let's not forget we are in a lockout season. The last time the NBA was in a lockout season, the Spurs won their first championship. Having fewer games helps the "older" Duncan and Ginobili.
To go along with fewer games, coach Gregg Popovich has carefully allocated his stars' playing time through the entire season.
For example. Of the 62 games played so far, Ginobili has only played in 36 (he was also hurt during a stretch of the season). Out of those 36, he has only played more than 30 minutes in one game.
The same goes for Duncan, who has sat out several games as well and has played fewer than 30 minutes in more than half the games this season.
Second, let's not forget about the third musketeer in the Spurs "Big Three." That would be Tony Parker, who is only 29 and is in the prime of his career. He is in the mix for NBA MVP this year and has been the player who has carried this team on his back the entire year.
Third, the Spurs have plenty of young players to support the "Big Three," and their young bench is considered the deepest in the league. Not only are they the deepest, but they are also the youngest. DeJuan Blair, Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard are 22, 24, and 20, respectively.
Last. Still think the Spurs are old? Here is a statistic to help convince you otherwise.
Of all the NBA teams, 12 teams had schedules that included two "back-to-back-to-back" stretches in the season.
Of those 12 teams, the Spurs are the only one to win all six of those games.
That's a good sign this "old'' team.
2. "The Spurs Need More Bigs Other Than Duncan"
Harry How/Getty Images
It is no secret that there is an obvious step down in talent with the Spurs big men after Tim Duncan.
Keep in mind however, it's impossible not to have a step down in talent to the player considered the best power forward ever to play the game.
Coach Popovich has flirted with various combinations of bigs to play alongside with Duncan.
Including the newest adjustment to the starting lineup involving starting Tiago Splitter. Splitter has been a piece of work that the Spurs have been slowly but surely improving on throughout the past couple seasons.
The adjustment worked last night against the Lakers, who arguably have the biggest and best front line in the NBA with the duo of Andrew Bynum and Paul Gasol.
Not to mention, the Spurs acquisition of Boris Diaw, a 6ft 7in and 215lbs center/forward with plenty of experience and skill to add to the already deep Spurs bench.
Diaw, a former teammate of Parker in France, also has a 3pt game as many of the Spurs do. So far in 16 games with the Spurs, his average behind the arc is 54%!
And don't forget about Matt Bonner as well who led the NBA in 3pt % last year and is not about to start a slump anytime soon.
Adding DeJuan Blair to the mix mentioned above, the Spurs have enough big bodies to throw at opponents bigs. Most importantly, they all are unselfish and know their role in the Spurs system.
3. "The Spurs Were Number 1 Seed Last Year and Lost"
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
There are few moments that are worse than the infamous "0.4 seconds" with the Lakers to Spurs fans.
Losing to the Grizzlies as a #1 seed last year has to be one of those.
Sure the Spurs look like a possible number one seed, or at worst number two seed again...
And the Grizzlies are again in the playoffs, this time with Rudy Gay included. This year they are better than the 8th seed, currently 5th but possibly can finish 4th by the end of the season.
But as you guessed it, this year is different just like any other and here is why.
The most important reason why this year is different is defined by one word.
Last year Manu was injured on the last game of the season and was not only unable to play the first game of the playoffs but was not himself the entire series.
Additionally, with the help of a shortened lockout season and a cautious approach by Coach Popovich in balancing the minutes played by the Spurs stars, the Spurs are in much better condition coming into this year's playoffs than last.
Besides health, the Spurs have upgraded their team by reuniting former Spurs 2003 champion Stephen Jackson with the team. The Spurs also obtained Boris Diaw, another solid big to help Duncan in the playoffs.
Last year, many people agreed the Memphis Grizzlies were better than the 8th seed. This year there is no doubt that the 8th seed this year will not be as the same caliber. If the Spurs are able to clinch the top seed, there is a chance that the Spurs biggest competition in the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder, will slip up earlier in the playoffs due to their young and inexperienced team.
No matter what the sports world says, or in this case doesn't say about the Spurs...they continue to win.
In my opinion, the Spurs are the best "Darkhorse" team in sports in the last 15 years.