In customary fashion the San Antonio Spurs wrapped up the top seed in the Western Conference and secured home court throughout the NBA Playoffs. But there is no need for confetti, t-shirts, or celebrations because winning division titles and securing the best record in the NBA for the 1,000th time means absolutely nothing to Coach Gregg Popovich and the Spurs. Securing home court throughout the NBA Playoffs may be considered a crowning achievement for some franchise, but for the Spurs its literally championship or bust, screw the banners, and those shiny regular season awards mean absolutely nothing to they guys.
Last year the Spurs pursuit for titles appeared to be only seconds away until Jesus (Ray Allen) intervened and the Miami Heat won their second NBA title. But how will things be different a season later? The Spurs did not make a splash in free agency and return the same starting five which includes same ol’ often injured big three of Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Tim Duncan. Tiago Splitter is still an offensive liability and calling Danny Green inconsistent would be an understatement.
But despite these glaring deficiencies and a unimpressive showing against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers this year may finally be the year. Talented forward Kawhi Leonard is healthy and is a year wiser after his impressive showing in the NBA Finals last year. The continued development of point guard Patty Mills will give Parker a much needed breather with very little drop off. And the most important reason why things will be different in 2014 for the Spurs is Marco Belinelli. Belinelli showcased his versatility last year as a member of the Chicago Bulls and his ability to both space the floor and get into the lane give the Spurs an invaluable asset that they did not have last year.
Although the fate of the Spurs will continue to be determined by their Big Three, their much improved bench will give breathers to the vets and ensure that their stars are not winded when they are needed most. Will this formula finally lead to the Spurs winning their fifth NBA Title? Only time will tell and I can not wait. Stay tuned…I know I will