When San Antonio made their run to the Finals last year, they swept the depleted Lakers in the first round of the playoffs, and did the same to a very good Grizzlies team in the Western Conference Finals.
The only team to give the Spurs any modicum of postseason trouble besides the eventual champion Heat was the Golden State Warriors, who were able to cause enough problems to push that second round series to six games.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich doesn’t believe that was a fluke, either. Speaking after beating a Warriors team playing without Stephen Curry by just two points on Friday, the tenured leader of basketball men gave his opponent the highest of praise.
From Sam Amick of USA Today:
“Well they’re for real,” Popovich said of the Warriors. “They’re really good offensively, (and) obviously they’re very talented. They’ve got an inside and outside game, and they’re really capable of scoring. If that was just it, then you’d call them a dangerous team where on any given night they can do you in. But they’re beyond that, because (Warriors coach) Mark (Jackson) has done a hell of a job in giving them a mentality, an aggressive, physical mentality defensively.
“He’s been demanding in that regard, and fortunately he’s got a group of character guys who want to do it right and get to the next level, and that’s what it takes. He initiated that last year. That takes them from a dangerous team to a solid, competitive team that can play with anybody. That’s who they are. Now it’s just a matter of being persistent and consistent about that, and reducing mistakes and understanding that it’s a long season. They’re definitely on the right path.”
Popovich has a history of being brutally honest, and isn’t ever in the business of giving out compliments when they’re not deserved.
Considering the success of the Spurs under Popovich as the league’s model franchise over the past 17 seasons, Golden State fans should be extremely optimistic about the future given his positive assessment.