The San Antonio Spurs are the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. Just last month, they were four games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder, with more than half of their roster injured.
Broken metarcarpals. Broken noses. Othyus Jeffers starting. Shannon Brown starting. These things happened.
And now, as of March 9, the Spurs have the best record in the conference. The Indiana Pacers' four-game slide means the Spurs also have the best record in the NBA with one-third of the season remaining.
It's amazing. But does having the No. 1 seed, you know, matter?
"It doesn't matter," Gregg Popovich said. "Never has. Just play and try to be at your best come playoff time."
"If we can accomplish that No. 1, it would be awesome," Ginobili said. "We'd love it. But it's not the main priority."
If you ask the Spurs, they don't overvalue the No. 1 seed, at least publicly. And with good reason. They are very, very good on the road; in fact, they are the only Spurs team in the Tim Duncan era on pace for 30 road wins. The Spurs have outscored opponents by 6.4 points per 100 possessions on the road, the highest net rating on the road this season and just a few ticks below last years Miami Heat, who outscored their opponents by 7.1 points on the road.
So winning on the road should not be a problem for the Spurs. Well, duh. The Spurs are a veteran team. They score a lot of points. They play good defense. They have Tim Duncan. The Spurs won seven road games in their jaunt to the NBA Finals last year, and they closed three series' on the road (and almost a fourth).
If there is any team that can win a road game in Miami (welp), Oklahoma City or Indiana, the Spurs are that team. But, to be sure, let's see how they fare in the playoffs as the top seed in the Western Conference.
No. 1 seed Spurs: 55-26, 67.9 winning percentage, 2 titles, 40% title rate
Not No. 1 seed: 78-57, 57.8 winning percentage, 2 titles, 18% title rate
Having the No. 1 seed does matter, at least statistically. (Though the Spurs won their last two titles without having the No. 1 seed.) Their title chances jump 22 percentage points and they win two-thirds of their games, compared to 58 percent when they aren't the top seed. It's a statistically significant gap.
But does it really matter that much season, when the West is seemingly better than last year? Depends. The Spurs would love the No. 1 seed, as Ginobili pontificated earlier, but having a path that includes Phoenix or Dallas in the first round (ideal matchups in my opinion) might help them get through the Western Conference gauntlet.
May the best team win.