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The San Antonio Spurs have solidified their place as an NBA dynasty. They won four championships over a nine-year period with the same alpha dog (Tim Duncan) and appeared poised to rattle off more.
Having said that, the Spurs haven’t won a championship since 2007. Their steady core of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Duncan under the watchful eye of head coach Gregg Popovich has remained intact, but repeating past success has eluded them.
They have been warriors during the regular season, winning at least 50 games in every season since their last championship (which includes winning 50 games during the lockout-shortened 66-game schedule, no easy feat). Despite being written off by critics year after year for being “too old” or “too slow,” this team competes at a high level even when injuries would appear to hinder its progress.
No matter how dominant and overwhelming the Spurs have looked during the regular season though, they haven’t reached the NBA Finals since their last championship win.
Last season, the Spurs finished the regular season on a 10-game winning streak. That streak ballooned to 20 straight wins after the Spurs demolished the Utah Jazz in Round 1, swept the Los Angeles Clippers in Round 2 and snagged the first two games away from the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals.
Everything was clicking for the Spurs and they truly looked unstoppable. However, the Thunder finally figured out that they were younger, faster and more athletic than San Antonio, which led to four straight wins, ending the Spurs' impressive streak.
San Antonio's championship window finally appears to be closing. Duncan is getting near retirement age, Ginobili can’t stay healthy and even the great Tony Parker can’t carry this team by himself.
The Spurs only have a couple of years left with the same core of guys. They’re facing a championship-or-bust season, but nothing will negate their fantastic run of success.