History was made in Oakland. Whether the Spurs win a fifth championship or not, San Antonio’s 2011-12 season will go down in the record books. With a 107-101 victory over the wounded Warriors, Gregg Popovich’s top-seeded Spurs won 50 games for the thirteenth consecutive season.
A record that would have made more sense broken in a season not condensed by a lockout. However, the Spurs put together two eleven-game win streaks, and new pieces made San Antonio the deepest team in the league.
Amazingly, Gregg Popovich and the Big Three were not even in attendance to witness the Spurs make history. No, the potential Coach of the Year and his three core guys were in the Lone Star State preparing for Sunday’s noon tip-off against the eight-seeded Utah Jazz.
Coach Pop had to have been pleased with the way the Spurs handled themselves at the Oracle Arena, though. Gary Neal stayed home as well, but it did not matter. Out of all of San Antonio’s March transactions, Patty Mills may have been the best one.
Mills caught fire in this contest, pouring in 34 points and dishing 12 assists. He truly put himself in Tony Parker’s shoes and led this team.
The former Blazer was not alone. DeJuan Blair put in 22 points and 13 rebounds. Also, James Anderson was given ample playing time, and took advantage to add 19 points.
Anderson and a few other regular reserves received the opportunity to prove themselves worthy of postseason minutes, while the Big Three rested their legs for what should be an interesting first round match-up.
Also, Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson were given the night off, and Danny Green was limited to eight minutes.
Popovich has the postseason in mind, and with the regular season finally conquered, San Antonio’s chance at redemption has finally come.
The second unit looked sharp against an all-rookie Golden State starting lineup, but the key guys must step up Sunday.
The Spurs will not see another team like Golden State in the playoffs. They have to win where it counts, and put these win streaks in the past.
No one ever had a parade for having the best regular season record, although that may have been good idea for the Cleveland Cavaliers with all of their postseason shortcomings in the LeBron James era.
Regardless, San Antonio’s efficient offense has to be apparent these next few months. Against Golden State, there was no challenge to get the ball in the net. San Antonio did not play an amazing game, but took care of the little things to get the job done.
Crashing the boards was crucial, and the Warriors were careless with the ball at times. Golden State managed to hang with the Spurs JV for a good part of the game, but it was for nothing in the end.
Maybe not for nothing. Golden State has been tanking in order to get a better draft pick, which at this point, would be beneficial to a team lacking in so many areas. However, that may mainly stem from all the injuries to guys like Stephen Curry and David Lee.
While the Warriors’ season is over, San Antonio begins the only season they care about. And a fifth NBA championship is on the line, and San Antonio’s road will be no cake walk.
Assuming San Antonio can outsmart and outplay the Jazz, the Grizzlies or Clippers will be awaiting them in the Conference Semi-Finals. After that, the Spurs will more than likely get the Lakers or Thunder if they can survive a series with Memphis or Lob City. Then San Antonio will face either Chicago or Miami (maybe Boston), if they can maintain this high-level of basketball.
Playoffs begin Saturday, so sit back and enjoy the “BIG” things coming.