The San Antonio Spurs prepare to head into the All-Star break with one of their best records in recent memory and a decent enough lead in the division and conference standings. Though most Power Rankings have them as the top team in the league right now, many NBA pundits still pick the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers as a better team and favorite to win the title.
The Lakers are after all the two-time defending NBA champions, and the Celtics have been to the NBA Finals two out of the last three years. At times, both franchises may not look like title contenders, but they are still teams filled with great talent, size, coaching and solid postseason experience.
The Spurs currently hold the best overall record in the league at 44-8. That may not mean much now, especially with 30 games remaining, and it definitely means diddly squat come playoff time. But let’s face it, this team has more than earned the league’s top mark and right to be called a title contender.
San Antonio isn’t just winning games, it’s winning games in ways that flat out frustrates opponents. In the past, the Silver and Black have relied on its defense to carry them to victory. That is once again the case, only this time, they have a high powered offense to go along with it.
The Spurs have allowed 96.7 points this season while scoring 103.9, and own the second best point-differential in the NBA (behind the Miami Heat). Boston is ranked third and the Lakers fourth. The Spurs are also 32-3 when they score 100+ points and 14-4 when their opponent scores 100+. No other team has a better record in that category.
Perhaps though what truly makes the Spurs a tough all around team is the fact they are healthy (unlike the Celtics), they’re bench is deep (unlike the Lakers) and they’re young players are producing (unlike the Celtics and Lakers). DeJuan Blair is having a sophomore season to remember, which includes more than 10 double-doubles, and George Hill is averaging double-digit figures.
Then there’s rookie sensation Gary Neal’s fantastic offensive output, specifically from behind the arc, and Richard Jefferson’s solid second season play. But it’s really the fact that Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are playing like the Ginobili and Parker of old, and Tim Duncan is getting rest when needed.
Sure the Spurs are 2-0 against Los Angeles and 0-1 against Boston but it may still be early to say the Spurs are not a better team than the Celtics or Lakers or a favorite to win the title. It would be just as premature as handing over the crown to San Antonio based on their current record.
NBA analysts may not peg the Silver and Black for much more than having the best record in the league, but then again, they have been wrong before.