According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Spurs continued their climb up a prestigious list thanks to the achievement:
Most Consecutive Playoff Appearances - NBA— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 3, 2016
1949-71 76ers 22
1982-03 Blazers 21
1983-03 Jazz 20
1997-16 Spurs 19
1950-69 Celtics 19
While flash and pizazz are limited to small quantities in San Antonio, the Spurs (51-9, 29-0 at home) have been ravaging opponents behind the league's stingiest defense and an offense that spreads the floor, picks its spots and scores with bundles of efficiency.
Entering Wednesday night's 97-81 win over the Detroit Pistons, the Spurs led the NBA with a net rating of plus-13.6 points per 100 possessions. That's 1.3 points better than Golden State's mark despite the fact the defending champions have posted an outrageous offensive rating of 112.4.
The driving force behind San Antonio's efficient display has been a defense that entered Wednesday limiting opponents to 95.7 points per 100 possessions. For a bit of perspective, the Atlanta Hawks rank second with a defensive rating of 99.6.
|Team||Offensive Rating||Defensive Rating||Net Rating|
|1. San Antonio Spurs||109.2||95.7||13.6|
|2. Golden State Warriors||112.4||100.1||12.3|
|3. Oklahoma City Thunder||110.1||102.8||7.3|
|4. Los Angeles Clippers||106.4||100.5||6.0|
|5. Cleveland Cavaliers||106.9||101.4||5.5|
The man fueling San Antonio's run right beside the Warriors has been superstar swingman Kawhi Leonard, who's evolved into a wrecking ball on both ends of the floor.
"He's probably the best two-way player in the league now," Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said, per the Associated Press, via USA Today. "You have to deal with him in all kinds of different ways. He's a terror on defense. Offensively he's gotten better and better. It's kind of slowly but surely become his team in a lot of ways."
Beyond his stingy defensive demeanor, Leonard has scorched the nets with a league-best three-point conversion rate of 48.8 percent (entering Wednesday night).
Should he maintain that pace, Leonard could become the first qualified player in league history to average at least 20 points and six rebounds while drilling at least 45 percent of his threes, per Basketball-Reference.com.
As a point of reference, LeBron James and Michael Jordan both topped 20 points and six boards per game while shooting 40 percent from three during one season each over the course of their careers.
"He looks phenomenal," Kobe Bryant said, per the Associated Press, via USA Today. "His game has grown leaps and bounds from when he first came in the league. He's done nothing but continued to add. Three-point shot, pull-up shot, left, right, post game, handling the ball. He looks great."
Flanked by Tim Duncan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, David West, Manu Ginobili and a slew of quality role players, the Spurs have the right blend of youth, experience and discipline necessary to push the Warriors come playoff time.
The idea of dethroning the defending champions is daunting, but if nothing else, the Spurs have proved throughout their dynastic run that they aren't easily shaken.