Father Time finally lost a foot race.
Everyone had written obituaries for the Tim Duncan Spurs — multiple times over the previous years — but that team died like Freddy Krueger. The Spurs under Gregg Popovich had spent the past several years reinventing themselves. Tony Parker was now the focal point of an offense that had the best ball and player movement we have seen in the NBA in decades. They had rejuvenated their defense behind a renaissance of Tim Duncan. They had found the needed injection of youth and athleticism in Kawhi Leonard. They had found role players like Boris Diaw that were a perfect fit for what they wanted to do.
The final ingredient was the Spurs came into last season angry and motivated after a gut-wrenching Finals loss to the Miami Heat the year before thanks to a Ray Allen three.
By the time the Spurs reached the 2014 Finals they were playing the beautiful game, just tearing teams apart with their passing. That continued with the Heat. San Antonio’s offense was unstoppable against Miami scoring 119.0 points per 100 possessions – the best offensive rating in any Finals since at least 1978 (which is when the NBA starting tracking turnovers).
San Antonio beat the Heat in five games, just dominating the last three. Miami had no answers. It was the Spurs fifth title in the Tim Duncan era and grew the Spurs’ legacy in the past 15 years to as great as any other franchise — the Lakers may have five titles as well but they could not come close to the sustained level of success of the Spurs.
“We’ll never play better than we did the last three games against Miami (in the NBA Finals) Won’t happen,” Popovich said earlier this season to PBT. “We can’t play any better than that at both ends of the floor. If we got to that level I would be thrilled.”
If they get back to that level, the rest of the NBA should be afraid.