NBA Playoffs 2011: The San Antonio Spurs Championship Window Has Closed

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NBA Playoffs 2011: The San Antonio Spurs Championship Window Has Closed
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The San Antonio Spurs suffered an early exit in the 2010-11 playoffs after posting the best regular-season record of any team in the Western Conference.

The Spurs rode a red-hot start to 61 victories this season, earning themselves the No. 1 seed in the West. They held off the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks in the last few weeks, but they weren't welcomed kindly to the playoffs by the Memphis Grizzlies.

As the Lakers and Mavericks got by their first-round opponents in six games each, the Spurs fell to the Grizzlies in six games. It could have easily been a five-game stint if it weren't for a heroic, game-tying three by Gary Neal that kept hope alive for the Spurs in Game 5.

Zach Randolph was too much to handle for the veteran Spurs, as the younger, more energetic Grizzlies pulled off a rare No. 8 over No. 1 upset. The last bottom seed to beat a top seed was in 2007, when the Golden State Warriors beat the Mavericks. It was also the only other time a No. 1 seed lost in the first round in a seven-game format.

The Spurs are left to think back on how a team that was so dominant during the better part of the regular season looked like the underdog when the playoffs started up.

Have the Spurs seen their last chance to make a championship run with this squad pass them by?

Here's a handful of reasons why the Spurs need to start planning for the future.

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