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NBA Playoffs 2012: Why the San Antonio Spurs Will Be Unstoppable

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MAY 05: Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs passes the ball during the third quarter of Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Utah Jazz during the 2012 NBA Playoffs at EnergySolutions Arena on May 5, 2012 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Spurs won 102-90. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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Daniel Mano HerberholzCorrespondent IMay 9, 2012

In a particularly competitive 2012 NBA Playoffs, no team will be able to beat the behemoth that is the San Antonio Spurs.

It wasn't a fluke that the Spurs were tied with the Chicago Bulls for best record in the league this season.

However, the Bulls are hampered by injuries. The Miami Heat are still not ready to go all the way, and the Boston Celtics no longer have the juice to do so.

Young teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers, 76ers" target="_blank">Philadelphia 76ers and Indiana Pacers don't have the postseason prowess to overcome San Antonio.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers rely too heavily on Kobe Bryant to win games.

Though the Spurs have been centered around Tim Duncan before, the team isn't merely based on his dominance anymore.

San Antonio was quietly a very different team this year than in the past in both playing time and playing style, which makes them undeniably unstoppable.

 

Variety is the spice of life

Eleven different current Spurs notched significant time in each game they played. That aided the aging legs of Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, who did miss half of the season but is back.

SAN ANTONIO, TX - APRIL 29:  (L-R) Gregg Popovich  and Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs talk during play against the Utah Jazz in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 29, 2012 in San Anto
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Youngsters like Daniel Green, Kawhi Leonard, DeJuan Blair and Tiago Splitter injected some youth into the Spurs this season. Veterans like Matt Bonner and Gary Neal added more solidity. 

Then there's the midseason acquisitions of lanky forward Boris Diaw and gritty guard Stephen Jackson.

Diaw can ratchet his game up in the playoffs, which he showed with the Suns in 2006. Jackson has more playoff experience since last time he was around San Antonio, when the team won the NBA Championship in 2003.

Depth has been the name of the game in San Anton, and it's been orchestrated by the ever-creative Gregg Popovich.

 

Coach of the Year

For the second time in his 16-year career, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was named the best at his job in the NBA.

Despite dealing with an aging superstar in Duncan as well as Ginobili missing a significant chunk of the season, Popovich pushed the Spurs past the Oklahoma City Thunder for the first seed in the West.

Popovich utilized two full rotations, and some with the variety already mentioned.

18 Jun 1999: Chris Dudley #14 of the New York Knicks gets hammered as he goes to the basket by Tim Duncan #21 and David Robinson #50 of the San Antonio Spurs during game two of the NBA Finals at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Mandatory Credit: Matth
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Previously known as a shut-down defensive team, Coach Pop turned San Antonio into the best offensive squad in the league.

The last time Popovich won Coach of the Year in 2003, it boded well for the Spurs.

 

History repeats itself

Here's the sequence of events: The NBA players disagree with the plans of NBA owners. The owners lock the league out. In December, the two sides coalesce and hold a shortened season. The San Antonio Spurs finish the best record in the league.

That sure sounds familiar. But what comes next?

The Spurs stormed through the playoffs after the last lockout, riding a 15-2 run to capture the 1999 NBA championship.

Of course, that was a different time. Before it was 50 games, and this time it's 66. Before it was The Admiral and Co. playing alongside Duncan, while this time it's Parker, Ginobili and the rest.

Before the team relied on defense, holding opponents to a league-worst 40.2 percent from field goal range. This time the team is offensive, shooting a league-best 47.8 percent from the field.

But the script is there, and the Spurs appear poised to follow it.

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