NBA Playoffs 2012: Why San Antonio Spurs Are a Lock for NBA Finals

Matt ShetlerCorrespondent IMay 19, 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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With all the drama surrounding LeBron James and the Miami Heat and Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, the San Antonio Spurs have once again taken a back seat  to almost everyone else in the NBA.

The Spurs may be the least talked about powerhouse team now, but they won't be for long—you can go ahead and pencil them into the NBA Finals right now.

Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder may have something to say about that, but at the end of the day it won't really matter. The Spurs are locks to return to the NBA Finals for the first time since the 2007 season.

The reason why? Well, it's as simple as that—they are just better than everyone else.

The Spurs haven't been beat in their past 16 games and won 13 of those by double-digits. Expand that even further and San Antonio has won 27 of their past 29 games.

Their two losses? One came against the Utah Jazz with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all getting a night off. The other came against the Los Angeles Lakers when Andrew Bynum went nuts in grabbing 30 rebounds.

Everything else in that span has been pure domination by the Spurs.

What makes Gregg Popovich's team so good?

There are plenty of factors, but it all comes down to one word—execution.

San Antonio executes well in every facet of the game, especially on the offensive end where they can score effectively in any fashion.

The Spurs can push the pace and score in transition as easy as they can score in the half-court game. They can score on the block or shoot the ball from the perimeter. The pick-and-roll? Parker runs it to near perfection.

How are opposing teams supposed to defend the Spurs?

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MAY 15:  Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs argues a call with a referee during a break in the action against the Los Angeles Clippers in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on Ma
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The Clippers are finding out what a difficult task that is right now. 

On a nightly basis, San Antonio puts on a clinic of how to play unselfish basketball. They always make the extra pass and everyone wearing a Spurs uniform can be counted to knock down shots on a consistent basis.

If there's one team in the NBA that's next to impossible to defend, it's San Antonio.

Speaking of defense, the Spurs do that well also, allowing an average of only 87.5 points per game in the playoffs. It's all about execution at both ends of the floor, and the Spurs do everything well.

They are the highest scoring team in the postseason at 103.5 points per game. Also the Spurs rank first in field goal percentage (.483), first in three-point percentage (.427) and first in assists (23.0).

There's absolutely nothing this team doesn't do well.

They have extraordinary depth—nine different Spurs are averaging at least 7.2 points per game in the postseason. In addition to that, San Antonio has the perfect mix of veteran leadership to go along with a perfect dose of youthful energy.

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MAY 07: Head coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs argues a point with the referee during the fourth quarter of Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Spurs won the
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Not to mention they have the Popovich factor.

You can make the case that he's the best coach in professional sports and no coach in the NBA is as good at making in-game adjustments as well as Popovich does. There's also the fact that San Antonio is next to unbeatable at home, posting a 32-5 record on the season (including the playoffs).

Quite frankly, this Spurs team has it all.

From top to bottom, they are a nightmare for any team left in the Western Conference to match up against.

Think of things in these terms.

For the past 29 games, it's been next to impossible for any team in the NBA to beat this team. While that streak could come to an end, how is any team realistically going to beat them four times in a seven-game series?

I just don't see it happening, which is why the Spurs are a virtual lock to play for their fifth championship in franchise history.