Go ahead, basketball fans. Keep ignoring the San Antonio Spurs. They prefer it that way.
In throttling the Golden State Warriors 111-90 Wednesday night, the Spurs not only extended their franchise-record winning streak to an incredible 19 games, they also clinched their fourth consecutive Southwest Division title.
Even that, it seems, has become par for the course.
Since joining the NBA in 1976-77, San Antonio has won 20 division titles which is the most of any team during that time period.— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) April 3, 2014
That’s basically one division crown every two years.
Think that’s the most exercise your brain will get thinking about the Spurs tonight? Think again.
Barring the highly improbable, the Spurs are poised to secure home-court advantage throughout the playoffs—something they could’ve used in their seven-game Finals slugfest with eventual champs the Miami Heat a season ago.
Remember how they weren’t supposed to recover from that one? ESPN wasn’t quite so sure they would. And you know what? They definitely weren’t alone:
I've said it a zillion times: Let somebody else write the Spurs off. Yet like everyone else, I do wonder about how they'll bounce back mentally and how they'll physically handle another nine-month grind. Don't forget these guys have actually endured two successive heartbreaking postseasons.
Does anyone have any doubt we’ll still be sitting here 20 years from now waxing amazed about how the 57-year-old Tim Duncan, 56-year-old Manu Ginobili and 51-year-old Tony Parker—arthritic and gray and with nothing but rec-league guile to their games—just led the Spurs to 60 wins with the 85-year-old Gregg Popovich screaming between sips of wine on the sidelines?
How do this year’s Spurs stack up against last season’s runners-up? See for yourself:
|Year||ORtg (Rank)||DRtg (Rank)|
|2012-13||105.9 (7th)||99.3 (3rd)|
|2013-14||108.5 (4th)||99.6 (3rd)|
Seriously, that’s creepy.
Surely Popovich must be thrilled with how his team has performed in this, the all-important regular-season stretch—the time when your team starts flashing the mettle that’ll grind it through the postseason slog.
This has to make him happy, right?
Tony Parker, speaking to the Indianapolis Star, begged to differ:
I don't know. I think he'll be happy if we lose any time soon. Someone uttered the word ‘sabotage.’ I'm pretty sure. He's going to rest like half of the team.
All jokes about losing more money on a coaching decision than my house is worth aside, you can kind of see where Pop’s coming from here: Sure, the streak is impressive, but not so impressive that it should lend them a false sense of security.
At the same time, it doesn’t really matter. The Spurs are tremendous and will continue to be tremendous until cars can fly and all diseases are cured and someone finally invents flavored pen caps.