NBA Playoffs 2012: San Antonio Spurs' Savvy Veterans Will Lead Them to Finals

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IMay 10, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY, UT  - MAY 7: Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs shares a laugh on the bench with teammate Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs during the fourth quarter of Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Utah Jazz in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at EnergySolutions Arena on May 07, 2012 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Spurs won the game 87-81 and swept the Jazz four games to zero. 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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The San Antonio Spurs have the look of champions in the 2012 NBA playoffs. Their veterans are playing like spring chickens, and their savvy play will propel the team to the NBA Finals.

Some may say it's too early to tell whether or not they have what it takes to win the title. But I've been observing this team all year long and can tell you they are playing better than any other team in the NBA.

It was no surprise to me when Gregg Popovich was awarded the NBA Coach of the Year award. He has crafted as complete a team as I've seen in years, and his management style makes him the most beloved head coach in the league.

Tim Duncan lobbied for Popovich to win the award. Per

He's put so many guys into our system. We've been playing with two very young guys starting for us the entire year; getting all those guys acclimated on the fly with very little practice time. All those things, he's done an unbelievable job with it. 

Yeah, it's probably the best job he's done thus far. Obviously, not only the coaching job he's done, but the rotation he's given us. He's kept us fresh. He's found ways to rest guys when he can. I think our minutes are as low as anyone, and we're still No. 1 in the West.

The Spurs don't just have a big three anymore. They now have a few other players that can be the catalyst for victory on any given night.

Stephen Jackson is now starting in place of Ginobili—one of the ingenious moves Popovich has made to preserve his veteran players. Ginobili has been electric off the bench as a role player, and he is often one of the players in at the end of the game to close it out, having fresh legs to go along with top-level ability.

Boris Diaw is another savvy veteran whose presence on the roster has allowed Popovich some leeway and flexibility to keep Duncan on the bench more at the end of the regular season—allowing him to be as fresh heading into the playoffs as I've seen in a decade.

Tony Parker is as brilliant as ever. His ability to penetrate inside the lane is one of the more beautiful things I've ever seen on a basketball court. He can finish with a flourish or pass it out to one of his sharpshooters on the outside for three. 

The entire team plays as one. There isn't a selfish bone on the roster, and it starts at the top with Duncan. There isn't a superstar in the league more willing to be a pupil than him, never mind that he will go down in history as one of the best big men to ever play the game.

I don't see any team in the West with enough balance on both ends of the court to overcome the Spurs. They are set to head to the NBA Finals, with their veterans leading the way.