After their 92-100 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, the San Antonio Spurs have now dropped four consecutive games—all of which have been against the very teams which they will likely face in the early part of the 2011 NBA playoffs.
However, the blame for this recent skid largely falls on the shoulders of Tim Duncan and his recent left ankle sprain, which prevented him from playing in the four games and may even hold him out for the remainder of the 2010-11 season.
Nevertheless, San Antonio still boasts the top win-loss record in the entire league, at 57-17.
But do the Spurs really have what it takes to win an NBA title?
Well, there is a complicated answer to that.
First of all, San Antonio must soon put an end to their losing ways.
But in order accomplish that and to make a run at their first championship since 2007, the team will need to get fully healthy.
And considering the fact that, besides Duncan, both Manu Ginobili (bruised left quad) and Tony Parker (left knee contusion) missed the Blazers games, it seems likely that nagging injuries could very well spell an end for San Antonio's title hopes.
But even if Duncan, Ginobili and Parker are able to fully return to from injury and maintain their health, the team will still have a number of obstacles to overcome.
First, among those is the fact that, even before Duncan hurt his ankle, the Spurs had started to struggle when facing the league's better teams.
In fact, excluding their four recent losses against playoff teams, San Antonio has only managed to eek out mere a 6-6 record against plus-.500 teams in February and March.
And when that 6-6 mark is compared to their record of 20-5 against winning teams from October through January, it is clear that San Antonio was experiencing a late-season drop-off much prior to Duncan's injury.
Consequently, if the Spurs have any hopes of bringing home another title, then they would also have to return to their dominant early-season form.
However, it might be tough to get rolling again and accomplish that, seeing as though the team's remaining eight games are against opponents with a combined winning percentage of .604.
Moreover, only two of these games are against sub-.500 teams, and before the season ends the Spurs will have to face off against teams with the second-best and fifth-best records in the NBA, in the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics.
Therefore, San Antonio will be hard-pressed to raise their level of play prior to the postseason—especially if Duncan is unable to return—and as a result, it is unlikely that the Spurs will have very much momentum heading into the playoffs.
Consequently, the team may have to try and put it all together during their first-round playoff matchup—a feat which should be rather difficult to accomplish.
So to answer the question posed earlier, the Spurs will have what it takes to win an NBA title if they are able to get fully healthy, end their losing streak, return to early-season form by beating some good teams, and carry some momentum through the playoffs.
In other words, it's not very likely that they have what it takes.
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