Can the Spurs do it again? As of this writing, the San Antonio Spurs are set to square off against the Golden State Warriors in Game One of the Western Conference Finals. Nearly everyone is picking the Warriors to take this series. Most are saying they will do it in five games, and a few believe it will take them six. Try to find anyone who says it will go seven. And good luck trying to find anyone outside of San Antonio that believes the Spurs can win at all.
Basically, here we are again. The Spurs are being counted out before the first tip-off. They’re old, underpowered, slower and … and … and … We’ve been here before. When the Spurs won their last NBA championship back in 2014, it has been seven years since they hoisted the trophy. Their core team was more or less intact, but Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker were “old.” They were too slow and too out of step to beat the Thunder, which they did in the Western Finals. Then they faced the mighty, and some considered invincible, Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. This was the team that beat the Spurs 4-3 in the 2013 Finals, and most fans expected a repeat. Instead, the Spurs whipped and embarrassed the Heat, 4 games to 1. Even with King James outscoring Duncan by ridiculous margins game-to-game, the Heat could not keep up.
The Spurs have five NBA titles. Sure, they don’t have Tim Duncan anymore, and that’s a loss impossible to quantify. Duncan may not ever be discussed in conversations over the all-time MVP of the GOAT … but that seems unfair and shortsighted. Is he better than MJ, Kobe or LeBron? Probably not … but was he a difference maker? Absolutely, just about every time he stepped out on the court. But, quick, can you name the 2014 Finals MVP? Had anyone heard of Kawhi Leonard before he lit up the Heat on his way to hoisting that individual accolade?
So, that has some wondering: can this Spurs team defy convention again? Coach Popovich has them believing, certainly. Though few others really do. That means here we are again: the most consistent and some might say consistently dominant team of this generation is being counted out early and often. Will this be the year that holds true, or will the Spurs once again defy the odds and the prognosticators? That, as they say, is why they play the game.