Conceding to the intrinsically obvious can be off-putting for the San Antonio Spurs.
Win and they have an additional piece of hardware to show for their efforts over the last decade-plus. Duncan will have the option of retiring on top, Ginobili will find himself entering the offseason under similar circumstances, and the Spurs may be forced to rebuild around Parker and Kawhi Leonard, sans Duncan and/or Ginobili.
Lose, and the Spurs face the same uncertainty, only they will see it through a different lens. Duncan could still retire, Ginobili too. Or the latter could depart via free agency, leaving San Antonio to look vastly different leading into next season.
Or the Spurs could stay the same, like they have for so many years. Their Big Three could remain intact in attempt to procure what would still be an elusive title. In hope of winning what may prove to be an unattainable championship.
Championing the NBA is unwaveringly complicated. No matter the time, no matter the team, closing the year out as the last outfit standing is difficult. When the road to such a climax leads through a dynasty-seeking team like the Heat, it's even more so.
And yet, this is still the Spurs' best chance to pilot a fourth title-culminating campaign of the Big Three era, because it may be their only chance.
I'll spare you the details of their age and the reoccurring arguments that go with it. You get it, I get it, we all get it—San Antonio's core is old. When two of your three most pivotal players are on the wrong side of 35 and all three have left 30 behind, your championship window isn't just beginning to close, it's on the verge of being slammed shut for good.
Writing the Spurs off has become an overplayed fad since 2009 though, when they were knocked out of the first round of the playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks, one year after falling to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
Arguments asserting the Spurs were done only gained traction as they failed to make it out of the second round in each of the next two years. Little changed after they came two victories shy of an NBA Finals berth last season. Sure they had won two straight against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but they then proceeded to drop four in row. They were done.
Roughly one-year later, we know they weren't. Parker made Duncan a promise, a pledge he kept. Contrary to previous beliefs, the Spurs weren't done. They're two wins away from another title, the one they weren't thought capable of getting.
It doesn't get any better than this. Seriously, it won't.
Next year the Spurs will be facing a different, more menacing Western Conference. The Memphis Grizzlies and Denver Nuggets are undergoing potentially prostrating changes, but the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors are only going to get better. The Los Angeles Clippers are doing everything their power to retain Chris Paul and land a handful of other significant pieces. Kobe Bryant is going to return to the Los Angeles Lakers with or without Dwight Howard. And the Oklahoma City Thunder are going to get Russell Westbrook back.
All paths that lead to where the Spurs are now will make for backbreaking a journey, travels San Antonio may not be prepared to endure.
Which isn't to say the Spurs wouldn't, without out a doubt, be where they are now if it wasn't for opposing injuries. They deserve to be here. Weathering the storm of adversity they have not only isn't an easy task, it's a damn near impossible one.
Trios of thirty-somethings don't play for titles, they play for their jobs. They fight on because they're not ready to retire.
But the Spurs are fighting for a championship, for a chance to lengthen an already ingrained dynasty. And they're waging that battle now, allowing us to employ every cliche, some of which genuinely apply.
For the Big Three, there really is no time like the present, because the Spurs don't have time for a future.
What if Duncan retires no matter what? What if Ginobili does the same or leaves over the offseason? What if the Spurs stay together but are unable to get back here, to return to the finals?
After this, uncertainty awaits San Antonio no matter what. Questions will be asked and changes will be made, one way or the other. As the Western Conference infrastructure strengthens, the Spurs' ability to get back to where they are, with this team, will diminish.
Just not now.
Will the Spurs' Big Three championship window stay open beyond this season?
Ginobili's durability and capacity to play at a star-esque level isn't a conversation that should be put in a grand perspective at this moment. Duncan's age and potential to retire isn't a debate to have during the finals. Parker's health for the following campaign cannot be considered the most imperative of dilemmas.
Their age, their health and how it relates to the finals, and them keeping pace with the Heat are pressing concerns. They have to be. Beyond that, there is nothing to anguish over. Not yet.
Worrying about the future, about the ambivalence behind what's to come won't matter until after the season is over. Later will be faced and dealt with later.
Now is all the Spurs and their Big Three have.