San Antonio Spurs: Ranking the Spurs' Most Heated Playoff Series
The San Antonio Spurs are putting together one of their greatest playoff runs. With a first-round sweep of the Utah Jazz and another sweep of the Los Angeles Clippers, the Spurs have suddenly become the favorites to win the title.
Throughout the history of the NBA, few teams have been as successful in the postseason as the Spurs, who have appeared in the playoffs in each of the last 15 years, winning the title four times.
In those 15 seasons, the Spurs, despite often being criticized for their "boring" style of play, have managed to take part in some of the league's most exciting playoff series.
Here are five of the Spurs' most heated playoff series.
5. 2008 First Round vs. Phoenix Suns
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The Spurs and Suns have had one of the most intense rivalries in the league, with heated matchups dating back to the 90s. The first generation of this rivalry featured greats like David Robinson and Thunder Dan Majerle, with the intensity carried on by future Hall of Famers Tim Duncan and Steve Nash.
The teams have met 10 times in postseason history, with the outcomes varying depending on the season. The rivalry has produced some very intense series, but the 2008 one was especially memorable.
Prior to the series' start, anticipation had Shane Battier stating, “The Phoenix-San Antonio matchup is going to be an absolute bloodbath."
Well, he was right. In a continuation of an intense matchup in the previous year, the series met expectations.
The first game was the highlight of the series, as a double-overtime win for San Antonio foreshadowed the intensity that would follow.
The matchup also featured the infamous Hack-a-Shaq technique. The Spurs finished off the Suns in five games and continued on to face the Hornets in the second round.
4. 2003 NBA Finals vs. New Jersey Nets
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All Finals matchups are exciting, but some definitely rank ahead of others. For the Spurs, a few of their championship opponents were taken care of quickly and painlessly, while other title series seemed to be drawn out forever.
In 2003, the Spurs found themselves facing the New Jersey Nets in the Finals, and the series played out to be one of the more memorable ones in history.
In Game 6, San Antonio found itself down nine in the fourth quarter, before turning the tables and finishing the series.
Tim Duncan had a career night that prevented the series from reaching a Game 7. He finished just two blocks shy of a quadruple-double
The moment was so intense it earned itself a place in the NBA's 60 Greatest Playoff Moments.
3. 2006 Western Conference Semifinals vs. Dallas Mavericks
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Few moments were as heartbreaking as watching the Dallas Mavericks advance to the Western Conference Finals after stealing Game 7 from the San Antonio Spurs.
The Mavs began the series by winning three of the first four games, before blowing the next two forcing the series to a Game 7.
The Spurs-Mavericks rivalry, though often downplayed, reached its climax that night, as Game 7 alone is one of the greatest playoff moments in history.
The Spurs all but had the series in their pocket with a three-point lead and fewer than 30 seconds left. However, a dumb foul against Dirk Nowitzki allowed him to complete an "and-one" that put the game into overtime.
Dallas won and advanced, leaving the Spurs to watch the remainder of the playoffs from their couches.
2. 2007 Western Conference Semifinals vs. Phoenix Suns
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The 2007 Western Conference semifinals played by the Suns and the Spurs may go down as one of the most exciting non-Finals series in league history.
With an already heated rivalry, this series did nothing but raise the intensity.
Elizabeth White summed it up, stating, "Many thought their heated second-round series was the real finals."
Emotions were high, as the teams battled from the first tip-off. Manu Ginobili and Steve Nash both were scratched up, and a fight broke out after Robert Horry pushed Nash into the scorer's table.
Three players, Boris Diaw, Amar'e Stoudemire and Horry all faced suspensions following the incident, but even with Horry out an extra game, the Suns could not take advantage.
The Spurs eliminated the Suns in six games and went on to win in the NBA Finals.
1. 2005 NBA Finals vs. Detroit Pistons
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In every NBA Finals, emotions run high. The 2005 matchup between the Spurs and the Pistons was no exception.
The teams had emerged as juggernauts during the regular season, and the series was one of the most intense in recent history.
The series went back and forth. The Spurs went up 2-0, only to have the Pistons even the series at 2-2. The teams swapped victories in Games 5 and 6, forcing a Game 7 in San Antonio.
Tim Duncan was unstoppable in that game, and along with help from Manu Ginobili, the Spurs found themselves on top as the final buzzer sounded. The seven-point win was a nail-biter until the end.
After emerging the victors, the Spurs accepted their fourth Larry O'Brien Trophy and once again etched their names in the record books.