The San Antonio Spurs are back as defending champions this post-season, and given that they are currently on an 11-game winning streak, they mean business.
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It didn’t look quite as promising earlier in the year as critics and certain experts questioned whether or not this group was finally too old to compete and win back-to-back championships for the first time.
The Spurs spent the majority of the opening half of the season trying to find their feet, get players healthy and avoid slipping out of the playoff spots in the highly competitive Western Conference.
However, with Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter (albeit the Brazilian has now missed the last five games) all healthy for a prolonged period of time, they have gradually moved through the gears while expertly being rested by coach Gregg Popovich at regular times.
San Antonio are amongst the top teams in their Conference in terms of points scored per game, while their average of points allowed is only bettered by the defensive-minded Memphis Grizzlies.
The result is that the perennial contenders are back in the race for another ring this year as their 11-game streak has seen them win 21 of their last 24 which in turn sees them move up to second in the West and now looking like a genuine threat against any team.
Leonard has slowly become more influential and as explained by Parker last week, the transition of the team over to the reigning NBA Finals MVP is continuing as he, Duncan and Manu Ginobili continue to play their respective roles knowing that they can’t continue to play forever.
In fact, Ginobili has suggested that the end will come at the end of next season for him, and the same could be said for Duncan who turns 39 later this month.
While it is an argument that is used every year when discussing the ageing Spurs, this could well be the last time that this group as it is competes for a championship. It would come as no surprise if they prove everyone wrong again next year, but for now let’s appreciate their continued brilliance as they hold off father time and prepare themselves for yet another championship run.
With wins over all their close rivals in recent weeks, no team in the West will look forward to facing Popovich and his men and they had better be paying attention to their recent surge.