No one is taking a second glance at the team that’s three games ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder, at top of the Western Conference, and will likely have home court advantage throughout the playoffs. The Spurs recently enjoyed a 19-game winning streak and won the Southwest Division by nine and a half games over Houston, but it seems all people want to talk about is how Dwight Howard and James Harden will lead the Rockets into the postseason. Nobody wants to talk about the league-leading 59-16 San Antonio Spurs, and that is how they like it, under the radar.
Last season the Spurs had the Larry O’Brien Trophy within their grasp in the final seconds of a Game 6 battle with the Miami Heat, before forward Chris Bosh grabbed a rebound and dished it out to shooting guard Ray Allen in the right corner for a clutch three-point shot to seal the game and eventually the championship.
After 16 consecutive postseasons, five appearances in the NBA Finals, and four titles won – the Spurs are locked and loaded this year, ready to make another hard push towards the 2014 NBA championship. The mastermind of the Spurs is one of the top head coaches in the league, Gregg Popovich. Coach Pop is once again proving that the Spurs are an elite team and that they are here to stay. Despite all the difficulties and the challenges they faced this season, the Spurs have managed to stand on top of the extremely competitive Western Conference.
The Spurs have been outscoring their opponents by an average of 15.2 points. They continue to win big so Popovich can rest his aging core of players.
Wednesday night, the Spurs beat the Golden State Warriors 111-90. Point guard Tony Parker played 28 minutes with 18 points and eight assists while power forward Tim Duncan played 20 minutes with 15 points and eight rebounds. Both players sat out the entire fourth quarter. Popovich was able to rest his veteran players with his team leading by as many as 26 points, and never trailing after the opening three minutes.
“They’re playing amazing right now,” Golden State guard Stephen Curry said. “That’s the best in the league right now.”
Unlike the Thunder’s Kevin Durant who’s shooting lights out and averaging 32.2 points per game, no player on the Spurs is averaging more than 18.0 points per game. There are four more members of the team averaging double digits in scoring and another five players who are putting up over seven points per game. This shows the balance of Popovich’s style of offense. The team is ranked first in the entire NBA in assists per game, with a little over 25. The reason for such success is that Popovich resorts to using all of his weapons to attack the basket and making sure each player has a chance to shoot from his comfort zone when an opportunity opens up. This also translates to the Spurs ranking seventh in the league in scoring, with 105.3 points per contest.
On the other side of the court, the Spurs have the fifth best defense in the league, allowing 97.5 points per contest; that’s because Coach Pop has implemented a precise-style of defense that makes it hard for the opposition to have an clear look at the basket.
With Manu Ginobili at 36-years old and Tim Duncan at 37, Father Time seems to be an important factor with the Spurs this season. Health and endurance are an important factor in order for this team to make it through the postseason, and Popovich has put together a game plan to make sure he utilizes his veteran core of players effectively by watching their playing time.
The San Antonio Spurs are not guaranteed to return back to the NBA Finals to seek revenge on the Miami Heat (if the Heat is the team coming out of the East), but we all know that there is a team that likes to fly under the radar and will emerge at the right time to make calculated strike in the playoffs. Don’t be shocked if the Spurs are there once again.