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Breaking the Trend

By TNSpursFan on October 29, 2007.

Before the season has even started, the San Antonio Spurs are already bombarded with questions of why they are unable to win back-to-back titles. Everybody knows the Spurs have only won championships on odd numbered years.

It’s an even year, so it’s tough for us,” says Coach Popovich when answering the media’s repetitive questions.

As always, Coach Popovich is absolutely correct, but it does not take a future hall-of-famer coach to know that the road to the championship is going to be difficult. Regardless of what numbered year, getting to the NBA Finals in the Western Conference is extremely difficult. The Western Conference has dominated the Eastern Conference in the number of quality teams for the past eight years. Since the retirement of Michael Jordan, only two teams from the Eastern Conference have won the NBA championship. {Editor’s note: Thanks to one of our readers for catching this.}

However, this even numbered year for the Spurs is unlike the others. For the first time after a championship season, the Spurs return all of their players in their playoff rotation from the previous year. In 2000, the Spurs had to deal with the loss of The Admiral David Robinson, and after the following championship, the Spurs lost Stephen Jackson and Steven Claxton through free-agency. Similarly to many new players in the Spurs system, San Antonio’s new additions in 2006 (Michael Finley, Nick Van Exel, and Fabricio Oberto) struggled in their first year.

This year the Spurs’ core is intact and can only improve. So far in the preseason, second-year players for the Spurs, Matt Bonner and Francisco Elson, have really impressed the coaches. Both players are playing more freely and aggressively as a result of more familiarity with the team’s system. Furthermore, Brett Barry and Manu Ginobili had great preseasons as well. They will again be pivotal players off the bench this season. Most importantly, all five starters return to the lineup — Tony Parker, Michael Finley, Bruce Bowen, Tim Duncan, and Fabricio Oberto.

The fifth championship in 10 years is the goal. Number five will cement the Spurs as a dynasty and one of the best teams in NBA history. Because of the consistency of the lineup, I predict the Spurs will finally repeat, winning the 2008 NBA Championship.

Look for the Spurs to stick to the same lineup early in the season. The current starting lineup played well throughout the playoffs, so there is no reason to change it. However, I will not be surprised if Elson eventually takes over in the starting lineup later in the season. Coach Popovich appreciates his shooting ability and quickness. Elson’s outside shooting forces defenders to guard him outside the block, allowing Duncan to dominate the interior. Furthermore, because Oberto is more reliable defensively, he will be able to anchor the defense when Duncan is not on the floor.

Lastly, Bonner and newly-acquired free-agent Ime Udoka will be consistent contributors this season. Bonner will get more time early in the season because Horry has been absent for personal reasons. Also, I will not be surprised if Udoka gets some spot minutes. His defensive and shooting ability are impressive. Look for him to be in the lineup with Bruce Bowen to guard against teams with double scoring threats, such as Iverson and Carmelo in Denver. Besides these small rotation changes, the rest of the team will continue to be strong.

San Antonio is likely to use a 10-11 man rotation through the season to keep their starters fresh for the playoffs. As a result, the Spurs will probably finish second in their division to the Mavericks.

Playoff prediction: The Spurs will win their first two playoff match-ups in relative dominant form and play either the Mavericks or Houston in the Western Conference Finals. The Suns will not be as good this year as they were in the past three years. Their bench is too short, and they lost their only post defender in Kurt Thomas. Thus, the Spurs will probably play either the Mavs or Rockets and win in a close series to get to the championship game.

In the Finals, they will play the Boston Celtics. With two blockbuster trades to acquire Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, the Celtics will be one of the best teams in the NBA. They also acquired a few good role players as well. However, the coaching staff for the team is suspect.

Thus, the Spurs will beat the Celtics 4-2 to finally break the trend of losing on even numbered years.

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  1. arcade October 30, 2007

    Of course a lot of things have been said about the Spurs chances this season. Age factor being one of them.

    But I beg to differ

    Please check this article and you’ll know why….

  2. Anonymous November 1, 2007

    2 eastern teams have won the championship since jordan. though i guess i don’t really count the heat since stern told the refs to blow the whistle every time wade got breathed on.

  3. Anonymous November 6, 2007

    i do believe david robinson was on the 1999 and 2003 championship squads

  4. Anonymous November 14, 2007

    Yep, Robinson didn’t retire until after the 2003 championship. Maybe TNSpursFan is too young to remember.


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