The San Antonio Spurs were the best team in basketball last year. They had one goal in mind after a heart breaking defeat in the NBA Finals. Throughout the year Greg Popovich used different lineups to prepare his team for any small or big lineups they may face in the playoffs. This team had great balance, no one averaged more than 30 minutes per game and they had six players average at least 10 points per game. The Spurs were dominate in the regular season again, winning at least 50 games for the 15th straight season finishing with 62 wins.
Throughout all the years of their greatness the Spurs never made it to the Finals in back to back years. They had a chip on their shoulder because they were so close last season. The core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard were even better. Individual stats don’t tell the story with this team. Each guy took over games when needed. The role players got more time in the regular season and were more confident during the playoffs.
This team led the NBA in assists and three point field percentage. That is a deadly combination if you want to win a title. They were still solid on the defensive end as Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter protected the paint. On the perimeter Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green did a great job contending the opposing teams best players.
During the 1st round of the playoffs the Spurs were down 2-1 to the Dallas Mavericks. That was the only time they were down in a series. They finished Dallas in seven games and quickly moved on to the young Portland team. Hot off their exciting series win over the Rockets the Blazers were outmatched in five games. The real test for the Spurs was supposed to be against the Thunder. The Thunder did not have Serge Ibaka and were destroyed in San Antonio.
Ibaka returned and the Thunder answered. The Spurs were in a real series. They answered the call and dismantled the Thunder in game five. Game six was the best of the bunch as the Spurs went into OKC and beat the Thunder in overtime. It was done; the Spurs were going back to the NBA Finals in back to back seasons.
We all remember the epic series against the Miami Heat. This time around the Spurs had homecourt advantage. The first game will be remembered as the “Air Conditioner” game. Somehow the air conditioner went out and the building was like a furnace, players were visibly affected by the conditions. Late in the game LeBron James drove to the basket, hit a layup but when he landed he couldn’t move. The world’s best player had cramped up and couldn’t move. When he left the game the Spurs went on a run and put the Heat away.
The second game was also close. A Chris Bosh three pointer sealed the game for the Heat. No cramps for LeBron as he finished with 35 points and 10 rebounds. That would be the last time the Heat would win a game or even be in a game in the fourth quarter.
The Spurs went to Miami and blew the Heat out twice. The next three games were not close in any sense. LeBron was the only guy for the Heat to get it going but once the Spurs keyed in on him his teammates could not do anything. The Spurs won the next three games by 19, 21, and 17 points. They won each game in the series by at least 15 points.
The journey was over and the San Antonio Spurs were NBA Champions once again. Kawhi Leonard played great and was awarded with the Finals MVP becoming the youngest player to win the award.
The Spurs had the last pick in the 1st round and they picked Kyle Anderson from UCLA. Anderson is a 6’9 point forward. He has incredible vision and might have been the best passer in the draft. Another great pick by this organization. Anderson reminds me of Boris Diaw, a player that can do a little bit of everything.
In the off-season the Spurs resigned Duncan, Diaw and Patty Mills. Duncan took another discount to stay. They are back for another run to the NBA Finals. They only seem to get better as the years go on. This team used to play slow and grind games out. Now they are 6th in scoring and play at a high pace.
Gregg Popovich hired Becky Hammon as an assistant coach. She will be the first full time female assistant in NBA History. Hammon was an accomplished WNBA player for the San Antonio Silver Stars. She has a high basketball IQ and already served as a coaching intern for Popovich in 2013.
Pop will give Duncan, Parker and Ginobili their rest throughout the season as he gets the younger guys more confidence. This team has depth at every position. I think this is the year Kawhi Leonard really shows us he is an All-Star. We already know about his defense but I think Pop will unleash him this season. We all know they will win 50 games without even trying. They won’t have a chip on their shoulder to dominate like they did last year so maybe they will rest their starters more often. The Spurs will win 58-60 games this year.