Technically, the San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers each have the most wins in their respective conferences.
In reality, these teams hardly anything in common at this point.
The Spurs beat the Pacers, 103-77, tonight for San Antonio’s 17th straight win. It’s the longest win streak in franchise history – breaking a tie with a 16-game streak in 1996, before Gregg Popovich was even coach – and tied for the eighth-longest streak of all time.
The Pacers, on the other hand, have lost 10 of 16 – their worst stretch since Frank Vogel became permanent head coach.
The only way to compare these teams is ask whether the degree to which Spurs are surging is greater than the degree to which Pacers are drowning, or vice versa.
Tonight, The Pacers had more turnovers (15) than assists (14), and they shot 38 percent – extending a historic display of bad shooting.
Every time it seems it can’t get worse for Indiana, it does.
The Spurs, on the other hand, look better than ever. They’re pulling away from the Thunder for homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs, peaking at just the right time.
Tim Duncan shot just 3-for-10 and had three turnovers, but San Antonio is just so deep it didn’t matter. Behind Duncan, the Spurs have kept a steady focus all these years.
As the Pacers are learning, it’s hard enough to maintain focus when under the spotlight of contending for just a couple years.
Next week, maybe the picture looks completely different. The Pacers could be back on track, and the Spurs could look old.
But, right now, these seemingly similar teams are worlds apart.