Beyond the Bison: The other 48 days

Doug Hendry, Senior Editor

Steph Curry. The Golden State Warriors. Pursuing the best regular-season record of all time. We’ve heard everything there is to hear about the Warriors this season, and for good reason—Golden State is an incomparable 48-4 and has smashed records in its pursuit for another NBA championship. But I’m here to take the focus away from the Warriors for one minute and direct it back toward the most consistent team basketball has seen over the past five years—the San Antonio Spurs.

Despite five championships and some of the best players in the 2000s, the media does not give much exposure to the Spurs in an era led by the likes of Curry, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James—and the Spurs are just fine with that. At 45-8, San Antonio doesn’t need the attention to prove that they want to fight for another NBA title.

Now, I’m not saying it’s going to be a cakewalk for head coach Gregg Popovich and his Texas-based team, but it seems no one wants to give them a chance right now. We’ve heard it all before—Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginóbili are getting old and the team has to slow down eventually—but the Spurs fans are listening to none of that. The Spurs are just here to play smart, team-based basketball, and that’s exactly what they have done all season.

Kawhi Leonard has finally taken control of the team, and as the future face of the franchise, he has mixed young and old into a nice combination on the floor. He has been in the talks for the MVP Award, having averaged 20.2 points while shooting over .50 from the field and .48 from three-point range. Center LaMarcus Aldridge also joined the team this off-season to lift the load off the other mainstays.

But it’s more than just the individual statistics. Their +13.2 point differential is best in the NBA—just ahead of Golden State, but well beyond Oklahoma City in third with +8.2. This has been a direct result of the level of team basketball this team has played—there’s no focus on putting extra attention on themselves, only on winning games.

That team play has led to the most efficient level of basketball in the NBA. The Spurs hold the second-best record in the NBA, and at this rate, it seems they are headed for the ultimate clash with the Warriors in the Western Conference finals. Neither team has lost at home this season, and if both hold on to the top two seeds, they will have home-court advantage until they meet each other at that time.

It will certainly be a treat to see how the playoffs unfold in a couple months, and although the All-Star break just wrapped up, it’s never too early to start thinking about the postseason.

A seven-game series between the Warriors and Spurs in the Western Conference finals would be better than any possible NBA finals match-up. And I believe that’s exactly what we’ll get. When all of the lights and attention are placed on Curry and the Warriors, when nobody will be paying attention to “the other team” in the Western Conference, San Antonio will be right where it wants to be in its pursuit of its third NBA finals appearance in five years.

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