The San Antonio Spurs went from a team that many thought were too old to contend into a title favorite in the mater of a few months. Will the Spurs once again earn a shot at the NBA title, or are both age and the odds stacked against them?
For a while there it looked like the San Antonio Spurs were
on their way to a fifth NBA championship. They had the top seed in the Western
Conference, they were on a 20-game winning streak and they were up two games to
none in the conference finals.
Four straight losses later and they, just like us, are
sitting at home, watching the NBA Finals on TV, or more likely making some tee
Why did the Spurs come up short? Well, the Oklahoma City
Thunder had something to do with it. They led the West for most of this season anyway, before the Spurs got hot at
the end and stole the top seed, so it might not necessarily be the case that
OKC “upset” San Antonio.
Ultimately the Spurs couldn't stop Kevin Durant, who made
several key baskets in the deciding sixth game of the conference finals. Now,
an inability to stop Durant is no big shame, considering few teams can. But to
get back to the NBA Finals the Spurs will have to come up with some sort of
answer for KD, because they're have to deal with him directly for the
So as we look ahead to next season we once again have to
address the issue as to whether the Duncan/Parker/Ginobili-centric Spurs have
another championship run in them, or whether it's over for this group.
San Antonio had a lot of things go right this season to get
as far as it did. The Spurs were, for the most part, about as healthy as they'd
been in a while; they were getting decent production from the supporting cast;
and they had an abbreviated season to work with, saving on wear-and-tear on
their big three.
On top of all that the timing was right; the Los Angeles Lakers had an
off-year, and the Thunder and maybe even the Clippers aren't quite the powers
yet it looks like they'll become in the near future.
There is such a thing as “peaking early,” and that's
apparently what the Spurs did.
As for next year, Tim Duncan is a free-agent, although the
chances of his leaving are pretty slim. But what might it cost the Spurs to
keep a 36-year-old entering his 16th season?
Parker has been mentioned as trade bait, but will they
really break up the three amigos?
And do any of the current members of the supporting cast
have a chance to blossom into big-three status? At the moment we have our doubts.
There have been whiffs of rumors about San Antonio bringing
in Kevin Garnett, and while he's no spring chicken, he would definitely provide
a surge of energy into the Spurs.
It's been five seasons now since their last league title.
D-P-G are only getting older, and Parker and Ginobili won't exactly be catching
their breath over the off-season, getting ready for next year. Instead they'll
be competing with their home country teams in the Olympics in London.
The bottom line is this; if the Spurs go into next season
with basically the same team they ended this season with, they will not win the
Western Conference. They would have to have too many things go right. They'd
need a top-four seed, a healthy big three going into the playoffs, improvement
from the supporting cast and maybe a minor bus crash involving the Thunder,
Clippers and a couple other teams. Nothing serious, just enough to keep Durant
and Chris Paul on the sidelines. All that is just too much to arrange.