Tim Duncan, the greatest PF of all time and arguably in the top five of greatest players of all time, is on the brink of retiring and yet all we can talk about is free agency. This a a legend that may never step foot on the court again and there are absolutely zero stories regarding what he may or may not do next year. All we have heard is a quote from Tony Parker saying he expects Duncan to return.
Well I am changing all of that right now. I am going to give credit where credit is do and put the spotlight on the team and players that really deserve it, the San Antonio Spurs. The team that built their way to a championship using pawns as opposed to buying "kings."
Just like last season, before this season, all the "experts" picked the Heat to make the finals again. Who would they play? Well obviously not the team that took them to seven games the year before and who should have won the finals. No way. They are too old. Just like they were before last season when absolutely nobody picked them to make the finals. Let's all pick the Thunder again. A team that still struggles to find its identity in the crunch moments and has a starting point guard that plays off pure emotion and would probably be a better fit playing the two guard. Let's ignore the fact that the Spurs have three future hall of famers and the best coach in the NBA, they are still too old. Did you hear Manu took the whole summer off from playing international ball to focus on this upcoming season? Yeah, but, uh, did you hear the Thunder signed Caron Butler?!?!?! He is like a fat unproven Manu. Thunder vs Heat. That's what everyone was saying before the season started. Once the season stared though, it all changed oh so quickly.
Everybody jumped on the Trailblazers bandwagon because obviously a ridiculously young team with no playoff experience is bound to usurp the likes of the Spurs and Thunder. The Trailblazers eventually came back down to earth and people realized their youth was a problem so they looked to the Clippers.
The Clippers arguably have the best team on paper and the second or third best coach in the NBA, they must be doing big things. All season long it was all about how the Spurs weren't as good and all the new western guns. I mean the Spurs kept losing to the top teams in the league, I think 0-9 vs the top ten teams at some point, so let's just count them out. All over ESPN and other sports networks the experts were saying how the Spurs just aren't athletic enough to play with the top tier teams. When are people going to realize the Pop doesn't play his best basketball in the regular season? Especially against the top teams? He knows they are going to make the playoffs so why show your hand in the regular season?
Fast forward through a 19 game win streak, which ultimately meant nothing to the experts because it was stopped by OKC, and we get to the playoffs. Of all the match-ups the Spurs could have drawn, they got their nightmare. The Dallas Mavericks. The in-state rival who are is too familiar with the Spurs. The Mavericks are one of those sub-par teams that Pop really doesn't need to hide anything from when playing during the regular season and as seen in the first round, that hurt them. The Mavs figured out the proper counter attack and they played great basketball keeping every single game close. Until game seven.
Game seven in the first round was a bit of a turning point for the Spurs. They knew they were good enough to get back to the finals and that if they wanted to get there, they were going to have to play Spurs basketball from there on out and by god they did it in emphatic passion.
The Spurs went on to finish the rest of the playoffs with a 12-4 record. Of those 12 wins, 11 of them came by at least fifteen points and in total averaged each win by 20 points. The one win that did not come by 15 or more was an overtime close out game vs the Thunder. A game in which Tony Parker didn't play the second half. In fact Tony Parker, regarded as the best player on the Spurs, was a complete non-factor in every close out game after the Mavs series. Against the Blazers and Thunder Parker didn't even play in the second half and against the Heat, in a game that was over by the start of the 4th, Parker was 1-11 until that fourth quarter. Let's see the Heat win any of their close-out games if LeBron doesn't show up. It doesn't happen, you know why? The Heat aren't nearly as good a TEAM.
Do the Heat fans chant M-V-P for anyone other than LeBron? No? The Spurs fans were heard chanting M-V-P for FIVE different players in their closeout game. Ginobili, Parker, Duncan, Diaw and Leonard all heard the chants from the crowd at some point during the game. Borris Diaw didn't even average double-digits in any statistical category in the playoffs yet he led the finals in PER rating.
The things that most annoys me is when all the people were saying, "What can the Heat do better? How are the Heat beating themselves?" NOTHING. The answer was NOTHING. In all actuality, if not for missed free-throws in game two, the Spurs should have swept this series. The Spurs won three games in the series and lost one. The Heat did not win a game and they didn't lose a game. You put any of the best teams in basketball history up against this Spurs team and I think the Spurs could beat them.
For the record, I am strictly talking about this years Spurs team in particular. The Bulls with Jordan were unstoppable for years and are easily the best dynasty of all time, but you take the 96 or 91 Bulls and put them in a seven games series against this Spurs team and you will have one hell of a barn burner for a series. Unfortunately it is an argument that can never be solved. Sure this years Spurs team was the most dominant in NBA Finals history statistically, but stats can only prove so much. We will never know for sure unless we can harbor the ability of time travel. In the meantime though, here are some stats to prove just how good the 2013-2014 Spurs were and how good Tim Duncan is. The best team of this generation and possibly all time and the best power forward of all time.
- It was the Spurs 16th season of 50+ wins (15th straight season_
- In the Duncan 17 years era the Spurs have not won 50 games once
- It was a lockout year and they won the championship
- Tim Duncan became the 2nd player in NBA history to win a championship in three separate decades
- John Salley is the only other player to do so and you only know who he is if you LOVE basketball or grew up watching Celtics Post-game
- Tim Duncan now holds the record for most playoff minutes (8,901) and most playoff double-doubles (158)
- Tim Duncan has now made the playoffs in all 17 years of his career
- Jordan went 16/18, Kobe is 15/18, Bill Russell was also perfect going 13/13
- Duncan has 3 finals MVPs
- Equal with Magic, one more than Bird and Kareem
- The Spurs 52.8% field goal percentage was largest in finals history
- In game three they set a record for 71 first half points and 75.8% shooting, both highest in NBA Finals history
- Tony Parker averaged 17.4 points per game in the Finals, the lowest of a leading scorer in finals history. A true team effort.
- In a Finals that highlighted the Spurs scoring ability, not one Spur scored 30 or more points
- The team has had five 30 point scorers in six Finals appearances
- Shaq alone had six 30 point games in the 2001 finals
- Four Spurs players averaged 14 points or more
- The 70 point differential the Spurs posted is highest in finals history
- In games three and four the Spurs beat the Heat by a combined 40 points on the Heats home courts. The largest two game defeat on an opponents floor in NBA history
Listen, I could go on, and on, and on about all the statistical record this Spurs team set but there are just too many to go through. The last thing I will throw out there is that the Spurs were first in total defense in the playoffs and second in total defense. They were first in assists and first in bench scoring by an astronomical amount. So please, stop talking about free agency for five minutes and SOMEBODY give this team some damn love. If any team deserves some of the spotlight for once, it is the Spurs. Even though you know, none of them want it.
GO SPURS GO!