Regardless of how the regular season shakes out, when NBA playoff time rolls around, analysts and the like can’t resist harping on the past exploits of San Antonio’s “Big Three.”
After all, varying versions of those Spurs teams won four championships between ‘99 and ‘07 and finished in the top four in the Western Conference in 14 of the past 15 seasons. You don’t bet against that kind of track record.
When it comes to media members staking their reputation on predictions — counting on Russell Westbrook to take prudent shots or Blake Griffin to hit a clutch free throw — seems like a worse bet than San Antonio’s “Big Three” staying healthy and tanked-up for four grueling series… make that three grueling series.
The Spurs couldn’t have gotten luckier when the Lakers surged ahead of Houston for the seventh-seed playoff spot.
The aging Spurs were afforded the luxury of playing one of the few NBA teams older and more banged up than them. The Lakers are slow, lacking athleticism and Kobe-less. This makes them a perfect playoff mark for a Spurs team looking to preserve Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan’s energy before venturing on to face barn–burner, high-flying squads like OKC, Denver or the Clippers.
The Spurs are like a well-oiled ‘57 Chevy cruising in a parade. It looks exquisite, the engine purrs like a kitten and it runs like new — at 25 mph.
It’s a classic car with undeniable appeal. Problem is, if you put it on a track and push it to 90, it spits its guts up and putters-out, exposing the true limits of this once high-performance vehicle.
Past glories can mask current deficiencies and the Spurs hide theirs better than most teams, but as we saw last season against OKC, the Spurs come out like gang-busters during the playoffs and fizzle out as their energy wanes.
It has been six dope regular seasons and five playoff ass-outs since San Antonio won the 2007 NBA Finals in a four-game sweep over LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers.
The “model” remains, but it’s not producing chips. It’s questionable that Geriatric City would beat a Lob City in a seven-game series.
The Spurs got lucky this round. Not only are the Lakers old, but they are ornery. Gasol and Howard have been crying for the ball all season. With Mamba sidelined, Howard needed to take more than the 12 shots he took on Sunday. Gasol needed to at least double his modest 16-point output. The Spurs won’t be able to methodically cruise to victory in future series, though. Time will tell if they will turn it up or burn out again. With all of Greg Popovich’s technical mastery and pacing during the regular season, youth and fresh legs is something he can’t script into a playbook.