The Dallas Mavericks are in the midst of a fantastic season, and no one can deny this.
However, the Spurs, chugging along 274 miles south of the Mavs, are having a memorable campaign, and at 54-13, sport the league's best record.
I'm going to tell you why ultimately the Spurs are the better of the two, and why they'll find better success come April and beyond.
Veteran Leadership and Experience in the NBA Finals
Nothing helps a playoff run more than a veteran whose presence and leadership is never absent in the clutch.
While I cannot deny that the Mavericks have a king of their own in Dirk Nowitzki, at the same time, the Spurs have three. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker all carry the qualities deemed necessary in a veteran, and each of them has proven he can lead a team in a positive way.
Let's consider what the Spurs have in these players.
In Duncan, they have a truly magical player who everyone knows is the greatest power forward of all time, and even though his decline is evident in his stats, he is still a great defensive player and someone that can push a team in the right direction whenever needed.
In Manu Ginobili, they have one of the top 10 international players of all time and someone who, although not liked by many fans (such as myself), is a main reason why San Antonio is crushing the win column.
In Tony Parker, the third warrior, they have a man who, while being mired in personal controversy in 2011, is still perhaps a top-six or top-seven point guard in the NBA.
In all honesty, Duncan is the only one past his prime, but there are several players on Dallas' roster who have already seen their best days.
Peja Stojakovic, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion and Jason Terry are all over 30, and even though they are all solid players, their ultimate decline has settled in.
Imagine if Dallas had these players six or seven seasons ago. The championships would pour in.
For now, Dallas is sitting here, left wondering why San Antonio's only franchise has picked up championships in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007.
The former's trophy case? Let's just say that I have won as many NBA Finals as the Dallas Mavericks.
The Roster Doesn't Lie
My partner makes note of the player matchups between the two ballclubs. However, when you look at it closely enough, Tim Duncan matches up perfectly with Dirk Nowitzki.
Nowitzki doesn't play a whole lot of defense, so Duncan might find himself surprisingly efficient on the offensive side of things. Duncan is still one of the best at his position in the defensive department, and fans seem to forget it.
When it comes to point guards, the contrasting styles might startle and frighten the Spurs.
Jason Kidd, one of the game's greatest point guards in history, has leadership skills that are, on a whole, different level from Nowitzki's. While No. 41 might appear as the leader, it is obvious that the former California Golden Bear is the real leader.
The biggest difference is the hidden youth among the Spurs. Gary Neal, the young playmaker, is just 26. George Hill is only 24. DeJuan Blair, at 21, will be just barely old enough to legally taste the champagne the Spurs will taste once they claim their 17th division title.
Better Coaching and Record
While no one will doubt that Rick Carlisle is a premier coach, they just doesn't get any better than Gregg Popovich.
"Pop" is the best coach in the league not named Phil Jackson. His four titles are four more than the entire Dallas Mavericks franchise has.
You can bet that the 62-year-old legend will know exactly what to do come playoff time because, let's face it—he's been there before. He's one of the game's best in-game adjusters—as Ethan pointed out—and he'll know when to put in his playmakers and when to sit his legends.
Now that Jerry Sloan has discovered retirement, Pop is the longest-tenured coach in the NBA and has won more titles than any current coach outside of Jackson.
The Spurs' current clip of 54-13 is five games above the league's next best, the Chicago Bulls, and 6.5 above their Texas counterpart.
One thing that goes strongly unnoticed among NBA pundits is the record that they possess in the City of the Alamo. At 31 wins at just three losses, the Spurs possess the NBA's best record at home. That is pretty remarkable for a team that was supposed to finish behind the likes of the LA Lakers and Mavs in the West this season.
Another factor that should be noted is the Mavericks' divisional record of just six wins and seven losses. The Spurs' number of 9-4 is much superior to that of Dallas'.