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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

SDH Presents the 2013 End of Season NBA's Worst to First: 1. San Antonio Spurs

Overall Win/Loss Record (At Season’s End): 58-24, first place Southwest Division

At Season’s End:

Team Statistics and League Rank (At Season’s End)
  • Points Scored: 103.0 (4th)
  • Points Allowed: 96.6 (11th)
  • Team FG%: .481 (2nd)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .442 (8th)
  • Team FT%: .791 (3rd)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .376 (4th)
  • Rebounds per game: 41.3 (21st)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 42.5 (18th)
  • Turnovers per game: 14.1 (18th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 14.3 (12th

Individual Statistical Leaders (At Season’s End)
  • Scoring (ppg): Tony Parker (20.3)
  • Rebounds per gameTim Duncan (9.9)
  • Minutes per game:  Tony Parker (32.9)
  • Assists per game:   Tony Parker (7.6)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Tiago Splitter (.560)
  • Free Throw Percentage:  Gary Neal (.860)
  • Three Point FG Percentage: Matt Bonner (.442)
  • Steals per game: Kawhi Leonard (1.7)
  • Blocked Shots per game:  Tim Duncan (2.7)

Taking a Look Back at the Season that Once Was . . .

SDH Worst to First Recap
Time Period
Change (+/-)
At Season’s End
SDH Player of the Year:
Kawhi Leonard

Had the San Antonio Spurs won this year's NBA Finals, the Most Value Player certainly would not have been either Tony Parker or Tim Duncan.  On the contrary, it would have been given to a player who was only in his second year in the league, but also in his first NBA Finals as well.  In that seven game series against the Miami Heat, Kawhi Leonard went from just a mere role player to a potential NBA all star as he averaged 15 points, 11 boards and two steals per game.  His best effort came in the Spurs' heartbreaking game six loss to the Heat when he posted 22 points and 11 boards while shooting .643 from the field.  Had the Spurs pulled through in that game, they would have certainly had to credit that hard fought championship win to Kawhi Leonard's heroic performonce;  nonetheless, despite losing that game and the series, Leonard will certainly be a player to keep an eye on next season for sure. 


After two disappointing playoff trips which saw them lose embarrassingly in the first round to an eighth seeded Memphis Grizzlies followed by a sad finish in the Conference Finals blowing a two games to none lead and fall to the Oklahoma City Thunder in six games, it seemed as if the San Antonio's window of opportunity had all but closed.  Despite finishing with the league's third best regular season record, many had given up any idea of the Spurs even returning to the NBA Finals let alone bringing home their fifth Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy anytime soon.  Once the official playoff bracket had been set, many had expected history to once again repeat itself watching the San Antonio Spurs once again finish strong in the regular season to simply come up short once they arrived in the post season.  It had been a whole six years since the Spurs had advanced to the NBA Finals where they would win their last championship and after one disappointing playoff performance after another, it had become pretty clear that time had finally run out on this once unbeatable team.  That was until the 2013 Playoffs where the Spurs not only silenced their critics and dumbfounded their doubters, but also proved that not only the window had not closed on their championship aspirations, but it will remain open for potentially years to come.

First came the Los Angeles Lakers, a team that also failed to live up to enormous hype exorbitant expectations put upon them as they scratching their way to take one of the final open playoff  berths in the Western Conference; however, despite their disappointing regular season finish, some actually saw the Lakers possibly upsetting the Spurs in the first round.  Even without their star player Kobe Bryant, many still saw the Lakers as a dark horse to pull off the first round upset as they not only matched up well with San Antonio in terms of size and age of their respective roster but also that history was squarely not on the Spurs' side.  All of that did not matter as the Spurs simply decimated Lakers easily sweeping them in four games making those who had envisioned an upset victory by LA, one of which being former Laker great and television announcer Earvin Magic Johnson, look like complete and utter fools. Regardless even with the big first round win, many still shrugged it off saying the Spurs would probably screw it up eventually and fall in the second where they faced the upstart Golden State Warriors.  And unlike the Lakers the Warriors not only had the tools to possibly upset the second seeded San Antonio Spurs along with the supernatural help of the powers that be that brought them to that miraculous regular season run.

The Warriors continued that miraculous run by giving the Spurs their toughest battle thus far in the playoffs as the matched San Antonio point for point and game for game; however, San Antonio would take the edge winning game five and finishing Golden State in six games.  Now the Spurs would face a team that not embarrassed them two years ago, but also taken down the Pacific Division leading Los Angeles Clippers and the West's top team, the Oklahoma City Thunder.   Many expected an all out battle that would stretch out to all seven games in the Western Conference rematch against the Spurs and Grizzlies as Memphis had so much to gain while San Antonio had so much to lose; unfortunately, it would not turn out to be the back street brawl as everyone had eagerly anticipated as the Spurs made short work of the Memphis Grizzlies sweeping them four games to none. In fact the series ended so quickly that many had thought it had not happened yet and it seemed almost unfathomable that a team like Memphis, who took down two of the best teams in the Western Conference would fall so easily.  Thus after a five year long absence, the Spurs, who many had given up on the idea of them being a championship contender, would finally return to the NBA Finals once again as they would face the incumbent champion Miami Heat and it would be a battle of the ages.

In what can be considered as the one of the greatest NBA Finals of all time, the Spurs went blow for flow against Miami as the would take a game from each others' home court; however, a game five win at home would put San Antonio three games to two against the Heat and they looked to finish them of in Miami.  It almost looked as of the Spurs would go five for five in NBA Finals wins--they had led Miami by five points with just thirty seconds left in regulation; surprisingly however, Miami would overcome that hurdle to tie the game and bring it to overtime.  The game would go through two overtime periods before Miami was able to claim the game six victory thus tying the series at three games apiece leading to the deciding seventh game in the NBA Finals.  Unfortunately, despite their strongest and most valuable efforts, it would be the Spurs who would eventually fall as Miami managed to drag themselves away to their second straight NBA championship in three years.

Despite losing the Finals, the Spurs can be seen as the true victor as they had silenced all their doubters and skeptics who believed that they were too old and no longer had what it took to become a champion.  They spent the playoffs categorized as complete underdogs from the very start and many did not have them even advancing past the first round let alone making it to a position of winning their fifth NBA Title in fifteen years. During that seven game brawl that the entire basketball watching world had the pleasure and honor of witnessing, the Spurs not only shocked the world by nearly swiping the O'Brien trophy from under the Heat's nose but also shook the player who nobody thought could be shaken--namely the Man of Steel himself, Lebron James. Now Spurs fans can hold solace in the fact that not only their team is still relevant once again, but they will also remain in discussions of who will be NBA Champions for years to come.  With an emerging young core of players to complement the already solid veteran foundation, the Spurs will certainly be a team to watch out for a very long time, and it is quite possible that another NBA title will be returning to San Antonio sooner rather than later.