Simulating a 7-game series between ’14 San Antonio Spurs and ’05 Finals team
By Dylan Carter
We’ve pitted two of the greatest San Antonio Spurs teams against each other to see which would come out on top in a seven-game Finals series.
Recently, I was put on to a site called WhatIfSports.com that simulates sports games based on team statistics and player output in a given season. Today, I’m matching two incredible Finals teams against each other: The 2014 San Antonio Spurs and the 2005 San Antonio Spurs.
First off, I set the rotations to resemble that of the Finals instead of the regular season because as we’ve come to know, head coach Gregg Popovich usually shortens his rotations when it comes down to the most important moments. Player’s minutes are logged based on their averages taken from Basketball-Reference and have been assigned to their respective positions.
In the 2013-14 regular season, the Spurs finished 62-20 for the No. 1 record in the league and home-court advantage through the playoffs. With that in mind, they’ve earned that here since the Spurs finished 59-23 with a 0.720 winning percentage. If not for the 62-win Phoenix Suns, San Antonio’s 2005 Finals team may have earned that home-court advantage for their excellent record against inner-division rivals.
"We enjoyed the successes of our teammates."@Patty_Mills, @manuginobili, @theborisdiaw and @tiagosplitter reminisce on the 2014 championship and more in the finale of #CoffeeGang: OG Crew – coming soon! ☕@ATT | #GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/IEYp2v3HVA
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) May 19, 2020
Who would win between two of the San Antonio Spurs’ championship teams?
The ’14 team kicked off their matchup with a 105-97 victory over the ’05 team with six players reaching double figures. Though the ’05 team racked up more defensive stats and edged them out on the boards by three boards, the “Beautiful Basketball” team was on full display with 28 team assists for shooting splits of 0.513/0.563/0.933 on the night. Still, the player of the game was ’05 Tim Duncan, who dropped 26 points, 19 boards, six blocks and five assists on his veteran counterpart.
Just like they did in 2014, the Spurs doubled down and beat the ’05 championship team handily, 118-95 in Game Two of their showdown. This time, it was Kawhi Leonard who prevailed as the top dog with 25 points, seven boards and three steals on 10-of-18 shooting to match ’14 Timmy’s 25 points and nine boards. The ’05 team shot much better from three-point range than they did in their last game, but shot 12.3 percent worse than their opponent and committed 20 turnovers.
Even with the 2014 Beautiful Basketball team heading over to the ’07 team’s arena (which just so happens to be the same place), they continued their utter dominance of in a 108-94 victory led by Tony Parker’s 23-point, five-assist outing to complement another dominant defensive stance by that duo of Leonard and Duncan. By this point, it’s becoming evident that the 2005 championship team lacks the depth to go toe-to-toe with one of the best Championship teams of all-time.
A 3-0 lead is nearly impossible to come back from but somehow, these Spurs are pulling themselves back into the fight by the skin of their teeth.
At the height of powers, Timmy D wouldn’t go down without a fight. He exemplified that in Game Four when he dropped 29 points, 21 rebounds, six assists and five blocks. An exemplary performance from the Spurs’ supporting cast helped smother the 2014 squad on the perimeter, holding them to 8-of-26 shooting from deep.
That blistering defensive performance by the ’05 team held up with the ’14 Spurs returning home to get thwarted 98-93 on the back of Duncan’s monster 26-point, 27-rebound game. Legend Manu Ginobili has been relatively quiet for both sides but tonight, he showed up for the 0’5 team by draining 7-of-8 free throws for a 19-point, 12-rebound double-double.
After losing three in a row, the 2005 Spurs even the series up in Game Six with resounding a 108-83 victory on the back of Duncan’s double-double. The defense of fan-favorite Bruce Bowen hasn’t translated all too well to the box score, but his presence on that end of the floor has limited the 2014 Spurs’ perimeter players mightily. He came up clutch in Game Six with 18 points, eight boards, and 3-of-4 triples.
There’s no feeling quite like it. And in 2005, Tim Duncan and San Antonio experienced it for the third time. #21DaysOfTD pic.twitter.com/acIK9rwqAQ
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 8, 2016
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What comes in Game Seven is an unthinkable series of events led by the clear-cut Finals MVP of this fictional scenario: The Big Fundamental. After trading scoring margins in each quarter, the ’05 Spurs found themselves down by three with one second left in the game. In a miraculous sequence of events, Bowen drained a triple from the left wing to force overtime.
Against all odds, the ’05 team outscores the ’14 championship squad 14-to-8 in the overtime period to win the series. Duncan is crowned Finals MVP after dropping a 30-point triple-double in the final game to seal their victory and the 2005 team is immortalized as the greatest Spurs championship team of all-time.
Sometimes, it’s fun to get lost in this kind of imaginary scenario. There’s no way to truly decide which of these historic teams would win since it’s pitting two versions of the same group against itself. Still, at this time without sports to latch onto, I recommend getting lost in these kinds of scenarios to keep yourself entertained and enthused.
After all, these kinds of scenarios are part of what makes sports discourse so much fun.