Spurs Click & Scroll: Ranking the Spurs, ignoring playoff history

• Ranking threat levels of each postseason unit | CBS Eye on Basketball

Matt Moore breaks down each playoff team, why their dangerous, their weaknesses, playoff ceilings and floors and ranks them. He ranked the Spurs number three behind the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder. While some Spurs fans may disagree, it’s hard to rank the defending champs any lower and with the Thunder sweeping the Spurs in the regular season, it’s not unreasonable to see them picked her regardless of regular season record.

As far as weaknesses, Moore points toward the Spurs bench.

 The debate over the bench unit, widely thought to be superior to last year’s, is a serious one. Gary Neal, for all his faults, made big shots and had experience. Patty Mills is unproven and Marco Belinelli is … shall we say, exciting.

Moore says the Spurs ceiling is a fifth championship, while a reasonable floor is a loss in the Western Conference Finals.

• Spurs will need to ignore history in postseason | Business Journal

W.Scott Bailey writes that the Spurs will have to forget about their 0-8 regular season record against the Rockets and Thunder going into the playoffs.

The Spurs will enter post-season play this weekend with the No. 1 seed and home-court advantage, which could be critical if the 2013 NBA Finals were any indication.Tim Duncan and company have claimed that top spot by compiling a 62-19 record with one game remaining.

There is one concern, if you are a Spurs fan, however, as 13 of those 19 losses have come against the team’s top four opponents in the West and the two top franchises in the East.

• San Antonio Leads NBA Playoff Field – Unfortunately | Forbes

Tom Van Riper of Forbes says unfortunately for Adam Silver, his first playoff season as the NBA’s Commissioner is that the Spurs are the best team in the league and will not be good for ratings. Van Riper also brought out the “boring” card on this one.

The bad news: the San Antonio Spurs are the best team in the league. Again. For what seems like, oh, the 20th year in a row, the Spurs are the top seed in the west and a favorite to reach the NBA Finals. That’s the excruciatingly efficient and boring San Antonio Spurs. A team that’s historically good yet bad for business. A team that plays in a small market and whose longtime superstar, Tim Duncan, isn’t flashy. For the true hoops junkie, the Spurs are a joy to watch. For the casual masses – zzzz.

While Van Riper argues that the Spurs have played in the three lowest rated finals series ever, I think most NBA fans would agree that the Finals series against the Heat last season was considered thrilling and one of the most competitive finals series in recent history. He also says that Silver would prefer if Blake Griffin and the Clippers or Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors matched up with the Heat in the Finals. While it’s incredibly presumptuous to assume the Heat will be in the NBA Finals, you’re also assuming those teams would make for a competitive matchup in the Finals. As his own theory proves, fans don’t like a one-sided Finals series as was made obvious with the Spurs’ sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2007 NBA Finals.

• Mills ready to fire away for Spurs | NBA Hang Time blog

Jeff Caplan talks about Patty Millls’ transition from an afterthought at the end of the Spurs bench to his new role as a key rotation player. It’s clear, especially after Mills’ 26 point effort agains Dallas recently, that the Spurs will look to him consistently as a scoring threat off the bench in the playoffs. Caplan also said Mills has now earned the respect and trusst from his coaches and teammates.

“I don’t doubt him,” Manu Ginobili said. “He’s very young and doesn’t have that much experience, but he’s played big games for Australia, and in the Olympics. The guy can score. The guy is a scorer and I don’t see a scenario where pressure can really bother him. We trust him and rely on him, too.”

“He’s ready,” Popovich said. “He’s not a 21-year-old rookie. He’s played all over the world in all kinds of situations. He’ll be fine. I’m not worried about him.”

• Pop’s Way | CBS Sports

Ken Berger writes a great feature on how the Spurs have stayed successful under coach Gregg Popovich. He also talks to former Spur Steve Kerr about how the offense has gone from a dump it inside, four-down heavy system to one that relies heavily on Tony Parker and other complimentary players.

“Surround the big guys with 3-point shooters and rely on defense. You have to note that Pop has evolved a lot as a coach during his time, and the beauty of it is that he’s had Duncan pretty much the whole time. And of course, Duncan has been so open to change; as Pop has changed, Duncan has changed right along with him.”

Berger also talked about the changing of the guard around the Spurs nucleus of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili.

The first was that shift in offensive focus away from Duncan to Parker, which saved some wear and tear on Duncan’s aging body and ailing knees. The second was the 2011 trade that sent George Hill – approaching the expiration date of his rookie contract — to Indiana for Leonard, the 15th pick in the draft who remains on his rookie deal today. Not only was it a sound personnel move, but it was also a prime example of sensible, small-market asset management.

“Now they were able to compete with the super athletic teams in the league, like Oklahoma City and Miami, because you have a guy you can throw at LeBron [James] and Kevin Durant,” Kerr said.

• Project Spurs Network launches new blog | Stars Hoops

Self promotion alert: On Monday, I launched a third team blog as part of the Project Spurs network that includes Project Spurs and Toros Nation, Stars Nation.

This site will be a dedicated blog and podcast on the WNBA’s San Antonio Stars.

Several years ago, we launched SilverStarsCentral.com and while there was always the idea to bring that back, we also wanted to start new and note the new name of the team.

Be sure to go check out our coverage of the 2014 WNBA Draft and the Stars’ selections of Kayla McBride Astour Ndour and Bri Kualas.

About Michael A. De Leon

Michael founded Project Spurs in 2004. He started The Spurscast, the first Spurs podcast on the Internet, in 2005. Michael has been interviewed by the BBC, SportTalk, the Sports Reporters Radio Show, MemphisSportLive, OKC Sports Wrap and ESPN radio among others. He is a credentialed member of the media for the San Antonio Spurs and Austin Toros. He is also the founder of Project Spurs' sister sites, Toros Nation and Stars Hoops.

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