Clear Second Place

When was the last time we absolutely knew there was a clear better team than the Spurs? Was it those early 2000 Lakers? Was it the Heat? While the SSOL Suns were everyone’s favorite fun-and-gun squad, they only managed to beat (sweep) our favorite team once in a series. The Heat were all but beaten on their own court in one series, and thoroughly dismantled in another. Those OKC Thunder that had everyone questioning the new kings of the NBA? Well the Spurs managed to avenge a previous playoff loss (albeit with a timely injury to Ibaka).   

These Warriors are an all-time great team. This Spurs team is also, just a little less great.  

The Internet was filled with overreaction hot takes in the wake of the Warriors’ 72nd win on the season and first in 33 tries in SA, one that also ended the Spurs second-greatest-all-time home winning streak at 48.  

The dirty secret is that the Spurs have less trouble defending GSW (season lows in pace, points for The Ws) and way more trouble scoring. While some of our fellow fans point to Diaw’s absence as proof that SA still has a chance, that reliance on an aging (but very talented and crucial) guy is telling. Kawhi and LaMarcus are the two leading scorers on this team and yet they struggled in at least one game against the W’s. The Warriors took three of four against SA, but two were throttlings and this while also missing a role player or two for a couple. 

The Kevin Martin signing was a sign that the Spurs wanted more firepower — and likely for the Warriors. 

While Steph Curry and LMA are matchup problems when in the lineup, the Spurs don’t have any other clear advantages in the other units. Meanwhile, GSW is abusing Patty Mills when Sean Livingston is in.  

The playoffs exacerbate these kinds of things. Whereas I usually felt the Spurs had their best shot in out executing other teams, when the opponent does just as good of a job, defends as well, AND has once-in-a-generation talent? Well sometimes you come in second place. 

Here’s looking forward to the playoffs.  

Go For It

The great thing about the Spurs has been the longevity of competitiveness. For the fan, the great vicarious joys have come through championships and acuumulated goals. Timmy Duncan grabbed his 1000th win revelry, for example. These kinds of things are commendable and great and I take great pleasure in lording these accomplishments of our teams over those of other fans’ teams.  

The thing we don’t have — as fans — is an all-time great squad. Whereas the 96 Bulls are rightfully hailed as the greatest team assembled, and last year’s W’s as a good entry into that conversation, and (much to my chagrin) the 2001 Lakers as another one to consider, the Spurs have … this year?

And even this year is a bit tainted by the Warriors. Sure Pop and company don’t really care about that — but you and I aren’t there fighting through the season, focussed on the title. We don’t need to prepare mentally for the Playoffs because we aren’t playing. We are just fans and our sole joy comes from lording over other fans. I mean we are out here living vicariously. Unlike world soccer, we don’t get multiple trophies to brag over, we just have the one thing. Southwest division titles are meaningless, and Best Records are, too. All Time Best Records, however? Well those are a little more valuable. 

Even if the reward only merits a mention on a chryon as the next All Time Great team skips past it, it is something to memorialize our favorite squad in the annals of NBA History. 

The Spurs have two milestones that are within reach that would put this team in the All Time Greatest conversation: 70 wins, and a perfect home record. While the necessity of winning a title to immortalize this squad is mitigated by there being another 70 win team. So they might not even need  to win the title to be considered an All Time Great. I mean, the Bulls merely had 64-win Seattle Squad to compete with.*

So I hope they go for it. Try to make this already-all-time Spurs season an all-time NBA season . . . even more.