Tim Duncan

One more look at the Spurs’ dominant playoffs

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We’ve marveled at the Spurs’ offense and overall dominance in the Finals.

But, a week after they the 2014 NBA championship, I still can’t get over how dominant San Antonio was throughout the entire postseason.

The Spurs outscored opponents by 11.6 points per 100 possessions in the playoffs. Nobody else even neared that mark. The Heat finished second in net rating, outscoring opponents by just 1.8 points per 100 possessions.

Here are the net ratings for the five teams that outscored their opponents in the postseason:

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The Spurs just tower over the competition!

If you’re curious, here are the net ratings for every playoff team:

Team Net rating
SAS +11.6
MIA +1.8
WAS +1.3
LAC +1.1
OKC +0.2
IND -0.5
BRK -0.9
HOU -1.9
ATL -3.3
DAL -3.4
TOR -3.8
CHI -4.4
GSW -4.8
MEM -6.8
POR -7.3
CHA -10.1

As amazing as the gap between the Spurs and the rest of the field seems, I wondered whether that disparity might be inevitable annually. After all, all but the NBA champion lose their final playoff series.

So, I compared the net rating of each NBA champion (black) to the net rating of each postseason’s best other team (silver):

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Year Champion Net rating Best other Net rating Difference
2014 SAS +11.6 MIA +1.8 9.8
1999 SAS +10.3 IND +3.5 6.8
2001 LAL +13.5 CHA +7.7 5.8
2003 SAS +6.9 NJN +3.2 3.7
2011 DAL +6.7 MIA +3.6 3.1
1998 CHI +7.6 SAS +4.5 3.1
2004 DET +7.1 IND +4.9 2.2
2012 MIA +8.4 SAS +6.3 2.1
2008 BOS +6.4 NOH +4.3 2.1
2007 SAS +5.3 DET +4.0 1.3
2013 MIA +7.9 SAS +7.0 0.9
2006 MIA +5.2 LAC +4.5 0.7
2002 LAL +4.6 SAS +4.2 0.4
1997 CHI +6.8 SEA +6.9 -0.1
2005 SAS +4.1 MIA +5.4 -1.3
2009 LAL +7.6 DEN +9.6 -2.0
2000 LAL +2.4 POR +5.2 -2.8
2010 LAL +4.4 ORL +11.6 -7.2

Since 1997, as far back as NBA.com records date, there’s never been an advantage over the field like this. Heck, the NBA champion doesn’t even always lead the playoffs in net rating.

The 2014 Spurs were an all-time great playoff team, second only to the 2001 Lakers in net rating in this span. Just as importantly, no opponents were equipped to challenge San Antonio.

The Mavericks somehow extended their first-round series with the Spurs to a Game 7. San Antonio won that by 23 points as part of a 13-4 run to close the postseason, leaving everyone else in the dust.

TNT to cover NBA games with only former players, no traditional play-by-play men

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19:  Grant Hill #33 of the Phoenix Suns looks to move the ball as Derek Fisher #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers defends in the first quarter of Game Two of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 19, 2010 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.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) — TNT will use broadcast teams featuring only former players and no traditional play-by-play men during five NBA doubleheaders later this season.

The “Players Only” schedule runs Monday nights from Feb. 27 to March 27 and includes matchups such as Golden State-Oklahoma City on March 20 and Cleveland-San Antonio a week later.

Brent Barry will serve as the primary host of one team with Derek Fisher and Grant Hill, while Greg Anthony partners with Kevin McHale and Richard Hamilton on the other.

Lisa Leslie and Dennis Scott will serve as reporters.

Turner Sports says Thursday that Chris Webber will anchor the studio coverage with Isiah Thomas and Baron Davis, and that additional NBA players will contribute to the five-week program.

James Harden presents fan with game ball on her 100th birthday (video)

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HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden took some time out after the Houston Rockets’ win over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks to give a fan a present on a her 100th birthday.

Video shows Harden signing a ball for the woman and spending a few moments sitting next to her in her courtside seat and posing for pictures Wednesday night.

Harden told ESPN’s Doris Burke in an interview that he told the woman how “blessed” he was to be able to have a chance to meet her.

The Houston guard also put on a good show for the fan during the game, scoring 38 points in a 111-92 victory over the Bucks.

Paul George dunks on DeMarcus Cousins while getting whacked in the face (video)

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Kings center DeMarcus Couins appears set to become the first player to sign as a veteran designated player. The Pacers hope Paul George will follow.

But in the Pacers’ win over the Kings yesterday, George beat Cousins.

Not even Cousins thwacking George in the face could stop this dunk.

Report: Khris Middleton could return to Bucks before All-Star break

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 16:  Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks reacts during their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 16, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. 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.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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The Bucks projected Khris Middleton to miss about 70 games when he tore his hamstring before the season. That extended absence often leads players just to shut down for the year, but Middleton vowed to return in time for the playoffs.

He might get back far sooner than that.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Sources told ESPN.com the Bucks think Middleton, who suffered a hamstring tear just days before the season began, “has a chance” to return to the lineup during a three-game homestand next month before the All-Star ‎break.

Whether Middleton ultimately makes his season debut before or after the All-Star Game, he is expected to be kept on a minutes restriction as he eases way his back from the injury, sources said.

The Bucks have started Tony Snell, who has held his own as an outside shooter. But Middleton will upgrade Milwaukee on Snell’s biggest strength and provide massive defensive improvement. After a strong start, the Bucks have really struggled lately on that end.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has led Milwaukee to a 20-21 record, though the team is better than its won-loss mark indicates. The Bucks will be even better with Middleton, who will rival Jabari Parker as their second-best player and fit seamlessly.