Duncan and Co. move on, but the road the team faces gets tougher and tougher.
A friend of mine sent a tweet Sunday that read: The Spurs remind me of the Patriots. Good every season, but haven’t won a chip in 8 years.
Well, for the New England Patriots, their last chip was a decade ago, long before the Miami Heat had LeBron James and before Peyton Manning was lining up behind center for the Denver Broncos. The Spurs have a title of a more recent vintage.
Still, my friend had a good point. As much as we’ve loved the splendid run that Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and the rest of the San Antonio Spurs have given us since the millennium, we all have to concede this is the end of the road.
In beating Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks in a Game 7 on Sunday, Duncan and Co. showed life once again. But no fan of the Spurs should take much solace in that fact, because old NBA teams do have a way of willing themselves to a signature performance.
For the Spurs, their signature performance came in Sunday’s 119-96 win, which reminded us of what the Spurs used to do.
Now, they move on. They won’t find competition like Dallas in what lies ahead of them. Instead, the competition stiffens, and as difficult as the first round proved for almost every team but the Heat, the Spurs will hardly be the odds-on favorite to make the conference final.
Their chances of returning to the NBA Finals aren’t as long as the chances are for, oh, the Washington Wizards, but when we see a great team disintegrate in front of our eyes, we lean on nostalgia to keep what that team once was fresh in our minds.
We still have that memory of the Spurs last season, just seconds away from winning the NBA title only to watch Duncan miss an easy layup that spared LeBron, this generation’s Michael Jordan, the embarrassment of losing in another finals.
The Spurs will be fortunate to meet LeBron again, if he and the Heat can even return there. Their path to the finals is no easier than the one the Spurs must take. The difference is this: The Heat can squeeze one or two more NBA titles out of their roster; the Spurs can’t.
The NBA Finals ought not be their focus — not now. Rather, the Spurs must find a laser-like focus Tuesday night for the Portland Trail Blazers, who travel to San Antonio for Game 1.
Maybe the Spurs will move beyond the Blazers. Maybe the Spurs will make their conference final. Maybe they do have one more run left in them. Maybe …
Building expectations around so many maybes is to put too much faith in hope as opposed to talent. In a long series, talent trumps most everything else, although luck and savvy might balance the scales.
Damian Lillard and the Blazers know luck well. They also know talent. They have more of the latter than the aging Spurs do.
The Spurs have savvy aplenty, and they will need to use every ounce of it if they are to do what Tom Brady and New England have been unable to do of late: win the grandest prize in their sport.
My friend later tweeted: … don’t see Brady getting any more rings … as a starter at least
He could have easily been talking about coach Gregg Popovich, Duncan and the Spurs.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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