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History of the San Antonio Spurs in NBA Playoff Game Sevens

Apr 27, 2019, 9:50 AM CDT
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 2: Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers and Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs hug after Game Seven of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NBA Playoffs on May 2, 2015 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
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DENVER, CO – APRIL 23: DeMar DeRozan #10 of the San Antonio Spurs signs an autograph before the game against the Denver Nuggets (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)

With an imminent game seven looming over the San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets, we revisit the franchise’s history in these win-or-go-home scenarios.

‘Game Seven” is a magical word in the minds of sports fans. It signifies that two teams have duked it out over the course of the first six games with no team clearly pulling away from the other. It creates a level of competitive pressure that isn’t found elsewhere over the course of the season.

For fans of the San Antonio Spurs, it’ll surely bring about some anxiety considering the team’s fantastic postseason track record. The team has participated in 10 game sevens since the playoff format was introduced, ranking 12th amongst the league’s 30 teams. Their opponent, the Denver Nuggets, have participated in three game sevens in franchise history and lost two of those games.

Playoff experience is always a factor, but game seven is where each and every player puts their pride and status on the line as they fight for their lives. San Antonio has participated in four game sevens since 2008, winning half of those outings.

San Antonio overcame a rising Chris Paul in the 2008 Western Conference semifinals by claiming a 91-82 victory in New Orleans. Legendary shooting guard Manu Ginobili scored a game-high 26 points on 6-of-19 shooting along with four triples, 10-of-11 free throws and five boards.

Tony Parker tacked on 17 points and five assists while franchise star Tim Duncan struggled his way to 16 points and 14 rebounds. The Spurs ultimately won with their marksmanship, hitting 19-of-21 free throws and 12-of-28 threes. It was an ugly fight through-and-through, but simple execution and attention to detail prevailed.

They’ll need this kind of energy to overcome Denver on Saturday night.

Next: First Round vs. Dallas in 2014

SAN ANTONIO, TX – APRIL 30: Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks looks to control the ball against Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs in Game Five of the First Round (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

First Round vs. Dallas in 2014

After a heated battle through six games against the interstate rival Dallas Mavericks, the Spurs gave their familiar foe a beatdown in the ultimate game of the 2014 Western Conference First Round. Leading the charge was a determined Tony Parker, who knocked down 11-of-19 field goals for 32 points along with four assists and four rebounds. 14 of his 31 points came in the opening quarter of the contest.

His backcourt-mate Manu Ginobili put on a spectacular performance off the pine with 20 points, six steals and five assists in just 24 minutes of play. His plus/minus led all players at +32 because of his methodical passing, unrelenting pursuit of difficult layups and refined three-point shooting.

This marked the final postseason meeting between Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki, marking the end of an era for two of the greatest power forwards to ever play the game. Timmy played a conservative game, making 7-of-8 field goal attempts for 15 points, eight rebounds and two blocks in 31 minutes. Meanwhile, Nowitzki led the Mavs in scoring with 22 points on 21 shots along with nine boards, two steals and a block.

Only two players from this series remain in San Antonio – Marco Belinelli and Patty Mills. They combined for 12 points in limited minutes off the bench but witnessed first-hand the intensity and firepower necessary to dominate a game seven. Their testaments, as well as the preaching and guidance of Gregg Popovich, could be the deciding factor in the Spurs’ hopes of victory in Game Seven against the Nuggets.

Next: First Round vs. Lob City in 2015

SAN ANTONIO, TX – DECEMBER 18: Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs and Chris Paul #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers are seen during a game (Photos by Chris Covatta/NBAE via Getty Images)

First Round vs. Lob City in 2015

Though they were never able to make a true splash in the playoffs, the ‘Lob City’ Los Angeles Clippers were an impressive bunch that served up a harsh dose of reality for the Spurs in the first round of the 2015 NBA Playoffs. A devastating floater from Chris Paul in the closing moments of the game iced a 111-109 victory for the Clippers, sending San Antonio home earlier than anticipated.

It was an extraordinary performance by the great Tim Duncan, who poured on 11-of-16 shots for 27 points and 11 boards in the contest. Paul tied that scoring total while tacking on six dimes and two steals. The athleticism instilled by this Clipper group combined with their irregular 14-of-27 shooting from behind the arc pushed them ahead of the Spurs.

Attention to detail is key to any game, but it’s especially imperative in a Game Seven. San Antonio uncharacteristically missed seven free throws and lost the foul margin by two. Even further, they allowed the Clippers to get out in transition and score 15 fast break buckets to the Spurs’ 2.

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There are some similarities between those Clippers of the past and the current-day Nuggets. Both opponents hold an advantage in terms of offensive fire power and athleticism while lacking certain playoff experience that surges the Spurs. The major difference is that the Clippers had two primary stars in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin with fringe All-Stars in Deandre Jordan and Jamal Crawford.

Star power plays a real part in swinging the outcome of a playoff series, especially when it comes down to one final game.

San Antonio won game six against Denver by allowing Nikola Jokic to have his way as a scorer while containing his surrounding cast; something that couldn’t be done against that Clipper squad.

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Next. Ranking the San Antonio Spurs' Playoff Squads

Hopefully this kind of experience will enable the Spurs to complete their upset over the Nuggets.

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