Every year, the Spurs get overlooked as a title contender due to their age. Naysayers around the country, say "Nope, not this year. They don't have another one in them."
And every year, the Spurs prove them wrong.
This year is no different.
After their heartbreaking loss to the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals last year, most thought the Tim Duncan-Gregg Popovich Spurs were done. As if Ray Allen's three-pointer triggered a heart attack that finally flatlined the elderly Spurs who had gone senile thinking they could compete with the almighty Heat.
Even during the offseason, the traumatic Game 6 loss still haunted the Spurs.
During this season's media day, as reported by Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, head coach Gregg Popovich said this of Game 6, "I've thought about it every day and I'm wondering when it will go away. It hasn't happened yet."
Hard not to forget about it when almost every day someone asks about the loss. As Danny Green told reporters during media day, he couldn't escape it even in his worldly travels that included Mongolia and Canada.
How in the world does a team of old guys come back from that?
They use it.
In Windhorst's article perfectly titled "Are the Spurs over Game 6 yet?" he reports Tony Parker's reaction to the loss, "We'll talk about what happened as a team and we'll move past it. We'll use it as motivation."
Instead of dwelling on the infamous loss, they have used it to propel them to 13-1 this season.
The Spurs had a few close games at the very beginning of the season. But since then, they have been clobbering their opponents. They beat the New York Knicks by 31 with a score of 120-89. And in another 30-point victory, beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 126-96.
During their 11-game winning streak, their average margin of victory has been 15.1 points.
As always, San Antonio is getting it done on both sides of the floor. The Spurs are second in points allowed with 90.1 points per game and tenth in scoring, averaging 102.1 points.
Parker is leading the way again, averaging a fairly modest 17.9 points per game. But considering he and the rest of the starting five haven't really had to play in the fourth quarter recently, that's a pretty good number.
So how come no one is really talking about it?
Well for one, there haven't been that many close or exciting games to talk about because the Spurs are just running over everyone, generally speaking.
They also beat the Memphis Grizzlies who have started to turn their season around, but the Grizzlies were without Marc Gasol for most of the game, leaving in the second quarter with an MCL sprain. The Spurs beat them handily anyway with a final score of 102-86.
But really, San Antonio has always been overlooked and underrated, especially at the beginning of the year.
They have never been a high-flying, flashy highlight team. They don't throw alley-oops (they had one the entire season last year.) They don't play fast—they are 14th in the league for pace. And the most attention they receive are from naysayers who think they're old or boring, or both.
Last season's Western Conference Finals between the Grizzlies and the Spurs was the least watched Conference Final since 2007.
Want to know who played in the Western Conference Finals in 2007? The Spurs and the Utah Jazz.
The Spurs have stars, for sure, but they don't have mega-superstars like LeBron James pulling large audiences from all over to watch their games.
They don't really have true "marquee" players. The highest paid player on their team is Tony Parker who makes $12,500,000 a year. Compare that to the highest paid Knick, Carmelo Anthony, whose salary is $21,000,000.
The Spurs also don't cater to the media. They aren't rude, they just don't seem to care for the attention.
Well, Coach Popovich may be a little rude, but he's mostly just hysterically sarcastic. This video includes some of the best Pop reactions and answers to the media.
The Spurs are very even-keeled and level-headed, and they are quiet about their success.
And they experience success a lot.
They may be old, but they are definitely still capable of a championship, and their 13-1 start proves that.
The season is very young, however, and the Spurs' schedule is about to get much tougher. They face Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder tomorrow night (Wednesday, Nov. 27), the Houston Rockets on Saturday and then the 13-1 Indiana Pacers on Dec. 7.
The Spurs should be just fine, especially if their bench can continue to play as well as they have—they are averaging 42.4 points per game and 46.2 points against playoff teams per Hoopstats.com. And that includes Manu Ginobili, who played terribly in the playoffs last year. So far this season he is averaging 10.3 points per game, 4 assists and, here's the big one, just 1.5 turnovers.
The starters haven't had to exert too much energy in their last few games. Being able to enjoy the victory from the bench in the final minutes, they should be well-rested and ready for their tougher schedule ahead.
Although many people aren't talking about the Spurs, they are a force to be reckoned with yet again this season.
Motivated by their devastating loss in the Finals, they are a well-rested, well-oiled machine ready for another year to pursue one last trophy for Popovich and Duncan.
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