Throughout all these years, the Tim Duncan Era Spurs have shown to be one of the greatest teams that was ever put together.
Since the 1997-98 season, with the hiring of Greg Popovich as the head coach, the San Antonio Spurs have never had a season with less than 50 wins (with the exception of the 1998-99 season, which was short due to a lockout – Spurs were 37-13). In other words, they have not finished outside of the Top 2 spot in their conference for over 17 seasons. And have won 4 championships so far.
They have had great players such as David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili to name a few. But in my opinion, the greatest star on that team is Greg Popovich. The stats don’t lie. It is clear that with his arrival he brought with him an amazing culture of greatness and discipline.
Most people don’t enjoy watching the Spurs play. But, again, most people do not understand basketball that well. San Antonio has played the perfect team basketball for over a decade. Their plays are perfectly ran and their defense is other teams’ biggest fear. It is hard to find a flaw in how they play the game. They don’t take the shots that other teams give them; they take the shots that they want to take.
This is a championship basketball approach. How can you beat a team where they have a 12 man rotation, and their level of play never declines even when the bench is on?
Also, the Spurs don’t buy teams, they build teams. They have kept the same players foundation for years, and still manage to compete with the Big 3’s and “Super-Teams” all over the league.
Here’s a clip of how polished they look when they step on the court.
Now, let’s talk about the Thunder.
Since Scott Brooks took over the head coach position in Oklahoma in the 2009-2010 season, the Thunder have had 4 seasons with 50 or more wins.
The Thunder have 2 superstars that, in my opinion, have both been in the Top 5 MVP list for a few years already. Westbrook is arguably the second most athletic player in the league (only behind Lebron James), and Kevin Durant is the best scorer in the league hands down.
Serge Ibaka is a tremendous athlete, as well, but lacks basketball IQ. Kendrick Perkins is one heavy block of muscle that sits in the paint. And Tabo Sefalosha is a great on ball defender.
Their bench, however, is not very deep. Maybe 2 or 3 players are able to come in and legitimately cause an impact in the game (Reggie Jackson, Dereck Fisher, and Nick Collison).
Their offense is freelance for most of the time. Players taking turns trying to make something happen.
Drive and kick, drive and kick, drive and kick…
Eventually, Westbrook takes it to the hoop and slams it down, or KD knocks down a deep three over 3 defenders. But this is not a very reliable way to win in the playoffs.
With a small bench, KD and Westbrook end up playing over 40 minutes a game (KD played 52 minutes on game 6 of the WCF!!).
In my opinion, the Thunder will keep getting shut down deep into the playoffs every year, until they get more quality bench players to give KD and Westbrook a break.
With all of that being said, after watching this series and looking at the stats, I don’t believe there was ever a chance that the Thunder would have beaten the Spurs.
Here’s a great video that Coach Nick did about the Spurs vs. Thunder Game 6, breaking down how San Antonio absolutely handled OKC.
To be totally honest, I believe that the Spurs will beat the Heat this year. They are just too good right now to be stopped. Besides, they still have that bitter taste in their mouths after letting the championship slip through their fingers on game 6 last year. But this is a whole other story saved for another post…