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First to 60

By Jeff Koch on April 6, 2011.

San Antonio 97, Atlanta 90  //  59-19  //  1st in the West

Sacramento 92, San Antonio 124  //  60-19  //  1st in the West

Two more games, two more wins. Ship righted-ish. If there’s anything to take away from either game, it’s that we can still execute down the stretch of close games, and that we can still kick inferior team’s collective asses.

In the Atlanta game, it was nice to see Ginobili and Parker do their thing in the 2nd half to secure the victory. Both played to their strengths, attacking the rim, scoring, and running the offense to perfection.

In the Sacramento game, it was nice to see the team come out and light up the Kings in the 3rd quarter. The last thing we needed in this game was to let a bad team playing out the string stick close and make it a game down the stretch. With our phenomenal 3rd quarter, we were able to play the bench for most of the 4th (who continued the beat down). The ball movement was outstanding, and our offense was humming. The defense also showed up, as we were active on both ends of the court.

The biggest story for me over the last couple of weeks has been the play of George Hill and Tim Duncan. Even though it kicked off a 6-game losing streak and made everyone in Spurs Nation pull their hair out, the time off for Duncan may have been a Godsend. He looks as spry and fresh as ever, and his numbers and his efficiency have very sneakily been creeping up over the last several games. It must be spring if Duncan is rounding into playoff form.

As for Hill, what can we say? His offense has been nothing short of incredible, as he is a threat to go for 30 on any given night now. He’s become more aggressive in looking for his offense, which is his natural inclination and a role perfectly suited for him coming off the bench. And his defensive work has picked up a notch, as well, as he completely smothered Jamal Crawford in the 4th quarter of Tuesday’s win. If the Big 3 and George Hill can all play consistently elevated basketball in the playoffs, we’ll be in great shape.

Let’s talk Western Conference playoff picture for a minute.

Things are getting interesting out West. As John Hollinger pointed out on Twitter last night, no one’s talking about it, but the Thunder are in prime position to overtake Dallas for the 3 seed. As of tonight, The Thunder are only one game back of Dallas and own the tiebreaker against them.

At the top, with our win tonight and the Lakers loss to the Warriors, the #1 seed is ours. The Lakers are most likely locked into the #2 seed. (Thank you, Golden State.)

Denver is more or less locked into the 5 seed.

The race at the bottom is quite intriguing as well, as New Orleans and Portland are tied for 6th, with Memphis lurking just one game back. The final 3 spots will most likely come down to the last day of the regular season, which will determine who we meet in the first round.

My ideal scenario:

Oklahoma City overtakes Dallas for the 3 seed. Portland finishes in the 6th seed, Memphis in the 7 seed, and New Orleans in the 8 seed. We play New Orleans in the first round, then the winner of Dallas/Denver in the second round (assuming we beat New Orleans). The Lakers get the Grizzlies in the first round (a team that can match their size reasonably well), and then the Oklahoma City/Portland winner in the second round (two teams that traditionally give them trouble). That creates the best path for the Spurs to the Western Conference finals and the most difficult for the Lakers.

Just the way we like it.

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