The Spurs have been playing the most dominant basketball over the past two months. For a brief moment at least, after the Thunder dropped their game to the Pacers, San Antonio actually assumed the #1 seed in the West. At that point I was struck with two notions: 1) OKC had probably lost the #1 seed forever this season because the Spurs were simply playing too well to carelessly lose a game; and 2) The Spurs are known for not caring at all what their seeding was and forfeit seeding for the chance to rest their players. That was then what precisely happened, as the Spurs rested their key players and dropped a winnable game to Utah, thereby allowing the Thunder to slide back into the top spot.
To get a better handle on all of this, we posed the following question to our Spurs expert from Pounding the Rock, DrumsInTheDeep. To see his answer to my question this week, GO HERE.
The Spurs surprisingly, amazingly, all but caught the Thunder in the standings and can challenge for the #1 seed here on out. How do you think the rest of the season plays out in terms of the top seed in the West? How do you feel about the top two teams in the East?
DITD: Well, as of this writing the Thunder have reclaimed the first spot in the West, after Pop gifted the Utah Jazz a much-needed win for their playoff hopes. The fact that the Spurs kept it so close while missing Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, AND Manu Ginobili is significant, but that's an analysis for another time. When I look at how the rest of the season might play out, and if this back-and-forth will continue, I have to think the Thunder have three huge advantages:
1) Time. The Spurs have 11 games remaining, and the Thunder have 9. That means that while you guys only have two back-to-backs (BABAs) remaining, we have three BABAs AND the dreaded "Triple Lindy", which has all three games on the road. That's pretty insane.
2) Schedule. Yours looks pretty easy, save for a couple games against the Clips and one against the Lakers which are questionable, but certainly winnable. The Spurs, however, play the Lakers THREE times (because we haven't played them yet this season, amazingly), one of which is the first of a BABA leading to a match with the Grizzlies. I don't know about you, but I don't want to play the Grizzlies.
3) The Pop factor. You know that the Big Three will miss a few of those BABAs, and definitely one game out of the Triple Lindy. Pop doesn't care about seeding or record, or taking the chance to win 50 games despite enormous odds. He wants to keep our old guys fresh and healthy. It only takes one freak accident at the end of the season to completely derail the team. But I'm not bitter or anything.
So yeah, I'll go out on a limb and say it'll take a miracle--or a complete meltdown by the Thunder--for the Spurs to finish with the #1 seed.
You also asked about our potential Finals competition--the Bulls and the Heat. While I feel the Spurs are good enough to beat either, they're both strong defensive teams that go about their offense in different ways. Miami uses it's muscle and athleticism to dominate weaker lineups, but Chicago is much more Spurs-like and methodical. While we've only played both teams once, and got blown out by the Heat while narrowly losing to the Bulls, I think that with the upgrades we made to our bench, and with Manu hopefully playing at full strength (he missed both games), we'd have a real fighting chance. At least, it'll be fun to see. It'd be fun to see the Celtics, too.
Spurs Q&A Part I: Chasing the Champs
Spurs Q&A Part II: What Just Happened There?
Spurs Q&A Part III: Mid-Season Pick Ups
Thanks again to our man DrumsInTheDeep, and stay tuned for some more Q&A as the season winds to a close.