Tim Duncan

One more look at the Spurs’ dominant playoffs


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:


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):


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.

Report: Rockets management wanted to elevate Clint Capela over Dwight Howard last season, coach resisted

HOUSTON, TX - MAY 17:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Houston Rockets celebrates with General Manager Daryl Morey after they defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 113 to 100 during Game Seven of the Western Conference Semifinals at the Toyota Center for the 2015 NBA Playoffs on May 17, 2015 in Houston, Texas. 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 Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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When he was starting at power forward next to Dwight Howard last season, Clint Capela looked like he could eventually supplant Howard as the Rockets’ starting center.

It happened this offseason with Howard leaving for the Hawks.

Houston apparently wanted it to happen even sooner.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Houston Rockets management repeatedly pushed for Clint Capela to get more playing time at the expense of Dwight Howard last season, sources told ESPN, adding to the disharmony that played a prominent role in the team’s disappointing 2015-16 campaign.

Former Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff resisted complying with the wishes of general manager Daryl Morey and owner Leslie Alexander regarding a drastic reduction in Howard’s playing time. Team sources said Alexander never participated in the meetings with Morey and Bickerstaff but fully supported the general manager’s plan to prioritize Capela’s development.

League sources said input from face-of-the-franchise James Harden heavily influenced Houston management’s desire to decrease Howard’s minutes. However, team sources insisted that Harden was not involved in those discussions.

It’s believable Harden conspired against Howard. It’s also believable the Rockets covered for Harden.

Whoever was working against him, Howard clearly understood Houston planned to deemphasize him. Maybe he didn’t always handle that the absolute best way, but to a certain degree, he was just dealing with a difficult reality – one the Rockets should have foreseen.

It’s tough to tell an established star his role is being reduced. It’s far easier to tell a second-year player he must wait his turn. Houston’s management tried to take the harder path – and didn’t even get its own coach to comply, which only muddled the situation further.

The Rockets were coming off a run to the Western Conference finals, and amid so much chaos, still made the playoffs. This was a talented team that came too close to wasting a season due to internal dynamics.

And what does Houston have to show for its Howard plan? The Rockets didn’t trade Howard, didn’t get him to opt in (as they wanted him to do, according to MacMahon) and didn’t re-sign him. Capela will start now, but he’s not substantially more experienced playing center with other starters. Howard is in Atlanta, ready to help another team.

Prolonged breakups just aren’t healthy. Rip off the bandage or leave it on.

Anthony Randolph recreates Vince Carter-Fredric Weis dunk in Spain (video)

DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 27:  Anthony Randolph #15 of the Denver Nuggets dribbles against Mirza Teletovic #33 of the Brooklyn Nets at Pepsi Center on February 27, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Nets defeated the Nuggets 112-89. 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 Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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Remember Anthony Randolph?

The Warriors drafted him No. 14 in 2008, and he also played for the Knicks, Timberwolves and Nuggets, last appearing in the NBA in 2014.

He still has plenty of athleticism – as he showed playing for Real Madrid. The defender isn’t as tall, but the way Randolph leaps over him is reminiscent of Vince Carter‘s famous dunk on Frederic Weis:

(hat tip: Sportando)

Klay Thompson, Steve Kerr slam Golden State official who called Warriors ‘[cowards]’

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 15:  Head coach Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors talks to Klay Thompson #11 on the bench during their preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers at T-Mobile Arena on October 15, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Golden State won 112-107. 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 Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Marreese Speights bluntly assessed Draymond Green, but at least Speights put his name behind his words (at least until implying he was misquoted, to which the writer countered by claiming he had audio).

Someone else in the fantastic profile of Green by Ethan Sherwood Strauss of ESPN never attached his name.


multiple Warriors staffers share the opinion that Green is their most important player. Nobody replicates his set of contributions. As one team official puts it: “The guys might be frustrated by his antics, but they had an opportunity to prove themselves without him in Game 5 and they played like a bunch of [cowards].”

Multiple Warriors objected.

Klay Thompson, via Monte Poole of CSN Bay Area:

“That article pissed me off for this reason: If you’re going to call someone a coward, how are you not going to put your name to that quote?” Thompson began. “It’s easy to point to someone and call them a coward behind a shade of a shield. But why don’t you put your name to it? Then you can call us cowards. That’s fine. You can tell us that.

“But to say we played like cowards, and you’re not going to quote the guy who said it? That’s weak to me, man. How are you going to quote Mo (Speights) and not anybody else? That actually got under my skin, because you call us cowards but you’re not going to put your name to the quote? You know what I mean? You’re not going to quote who said it? You’re just going to say, oh, some executive said they’re cowards? Get out of here. That made me mad.”

Steve Kerr, via Poole:

“I don’t know who said that. I’d guarantee it wasn’t any of our coaching staff. I would be shocked if it was anybody in basketball management. We don’t do that. Nobody ever said that to me, not even to the press. But nobody ever said that to me, like, ‘those guys played like cowards.’ So I have no idea where that came from.”

“It’s upsetting because you want to keep things in-house,” he said. “If somebody wants to say something, then they should put their name on it. If you don’t feel like you can put your name on it, you shouldn’t say it.”

Thompson’s and Kerr’s resentment is warranted. It’s the height of irony to anonymously call people “[cowards].”

And the team official was wrong, anyway.

The Warriors lost the pivotal Game 5 of the NBA Finals, because LeBron James and Kyrie Irving played historically well and Golden State missed rim protection from a suspended Green. To say the Warriors played like “[cowards]” wrongly shorts both them and Cleveland. The Cavs were plenty good enough to outplay a focused and driven Golden State team with Green – as Game 7 showed.

The problem isn’t always mettle.

However, in this case, it is – for the anonymous team official.

Russell Westbrook’s Halloween costume? Joe Dirt.

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook spins the ball as he poses for photos during the 2016-2017 Oklahoma City Thunder Media Day in Oklahoma City, Friday, Sept. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Who knew Russell Westbrook was a big David Spade fan?

Westbrook was going to have a tough time topping his Steven Adams costume from last season, but he went an unexpected direction with the effort — Joe Dirt. As in the lead character from the David Spade film.

Yo Brandy where you at?? #joedirt

A photo posted by Russell Westbrook (@russwest44) on

Did not see that coming.

It turns out, Westbrook is a big Joe Dirt fan.

Note to self: If he loves Joe Dirt, don’t listen Westbrook’s movie recommendations in the future.