The San Antonio Spurs just do not know how to lose.
The Spurs finished their series with the Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday night, winning 102-84 on their home court. The Spurs won the series in five games and are now looking ahead to the Western Conference Finals as the next challenge to overcome in the 2014 NBA Playoffs.
Despite losing Tony Parker in the second quarter due to an injury, the Spurs were able to be as effective as ever on offense, moving the ball with ease and using depth on the bench as a clear advantage over a Blazers team that relies heavily on its starting unit. Tim Duncan was a consistent presence down low for the Spurs as he usually is, scoring 16 points and chipping in eight rebounds. Perimeter starters Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green contributed heavily to the win as they were able to get out and be threats in transition as well as spot up threats in the half court. The duo combined for 44 points on 18-of-28 shooting, including 7-of-10 from three point range.
The Spurs have a team that is loaded with contributors. Duncan, Leonard and Green are all capable of being standouts within the offense, as well as Parker when he is healthy. Off of the bench, Manu Ginobili, Patty Mills and Marco Bellinelli can all spread the floor and shoot from the perimeter, and versatile forward Boris Diaw can both shoot from deep and bang down low in the post with the other team’s big men. This team is filled with veterans who have played the game long enough and know how to win, and this team does not lose very often because of that proven experience.
Looking ahead, the Spurs will have to face either the Oklahoma City Thunder or the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Finals, but neither of those teams have enough experience in terms of winning at the highest level like the Spurs do. Not only does San Antonio have enough players who have been there and done that, but the team is also coached by arguably one of the best minds in basketball in Gregg Popovich. Popovich has proven time and time again that he knows how to prepare his team for anyone they may face along the way. Popovich utilizes the same successful schemes over and over again despite the players who are plugged into the system. Somehow Popovich is able to get the most out of his players, whether it is a guy like Duncan or a reserve player like Mills. Few coaches can do what Popovich does on a regular basis, so the Spurs definitely have an advantage in that area of the game.
The Spurs can drive the ball, play down low and shoot the ball from deep on offense. Defensively, the team has enough one-on-one defenders more than capable of guarding players on the opposing team, and Duncan and Tiago Splitter do a great job of clogging the lane down low and contesting shots wherever they can. Complete teams do not come around often in any sport, but the Spurs have been the exception to that statement for many years now.
All of these ingredients, between coaching and personnel, add up to another deep run by San Antonio. The Spurs have proven that they are consistent and mentally tough enough to deal with any other foe in the Western Conference, and this team may just have what it takes to go all the way to the NBA Finals.
And maybe, just maybe, the Spurs have what it takes to win it all. No matter what team the Spurs draw in the next rounds of the playoffs, they will be ready to win as they always are.