They swept the Los Angeles Clippers last weekend and they have now tied the LA Lakers 2001 record with 19 wins for the longest winning streak in the postseason.
No I am not talking about Miami Heat or even the Boston Celtics; I am talking about the San Antonio Spurs.
They have been on fire as of late and show no signs of slowing down. Their 19th win was lead by Manu Ginobili who scored 26 points. San Antonio beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 101-98. Coach Gregg Popavich gave orders to his team to “play nasty” and the Spurs listened. They erased a nine point deficit in the 4th quarter which stunned the Thunder who finally thought they left their underdog status behind. When asked about the secret to the Spurs winning success, Tony Parker said, “We don’t have any secret. We don’t even think about it.” With Game 2 on Tuesday night both teams are now looking on how they can improve and how to stay on top.
“They got us on our heels. We were not aggressive,” Ginobili said. “And in the second half, we did have it.” If the Spurs can stay on top of their winning ways and get 20 wins, they will be the fourth team in NBA history to pass 20. Their current success is already drawing comparisons to other successful teams but Parker wants to put the brakes on any of this talk.
“Until we go all the way, I can’t compare this team.”
Bye Bye Kobe
“Come hell or high water, we’re going to be there again,” said Kobe Bryant when asked if the Los Angeles Lakers could ever return to their winning ways and reclaim the NBA Championship.
The Lakers were eliminated in the second round for the second straight year on with a five game loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. This has caused the entire team to do some soul searching and figure out what has went wrong for two years in a row now. While many say it was because they didn’t have time to adjust to new Coach Mike Brown, many see that as an excuse for a lackluster season. The team had a 41-25 win loss record, which by most NBA teams is a success but this is Lakers and average is not what they do.
But the Lakers have extremely high standards for their players this is the same team who has won the NBA Championship 16 times. A team who don’t even acknowledge division titles that would be a major achievement for other teams. This has caused panic in the organization and has left them plotting their next move, like who to let go of. If public opinion is any indication of what is to come then Pau Gasol is first in line. The number one trending topic on Twitter in Los Angeles was “#IdTradeGasolFor”.
The Lakers have been one of the NBA’s least impressive benches, so cleaning house from the bottom squad couldn’t really hurt. The Lakers have also endured another year of drama that seems inevitable for this franchise. In the last month, they dealt with Metta World Peace’s seven game suspension for throwing a vicious elbow, Jordan Hill’s felony assault charge from his time in Houston, playoff hero Steve Blake’s Twitter death threats for missing one shot and Magic Johnson’s declaration that Brown would be fired if the Lakers didn’t survive the first round. But the faithful of the Lakers don’t worry about any of this, like any other fans they’re looking forward to next year.
Old School vs. New School
In a rematch that really surprises no one, the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics are looking to bump off the other as each team makes their way to grab the NBA Championship. Boston’s 85-75 win in Game 7 over Philadelphia earned the Celtics a trip to Miami and a team they know very well. Garnett said it best as he was leaving the court after Boston’s win “Let’s do it.” Both teams lineups will look more back to normal, but Bosh will remain sidelined because of a strained lower abdominal muscle. Both teams have played each other enough to know what they bring to the table.
LeBron James has already played the Celtics 48 times in his career, the last 44 of those games have been under Coach Doc Rivers lead. “I mean, I’ve played Boston enough with Doc Rivers at the helm and those guys, they don’t change,” James said. “They shouldn’t change. They’ve been successful. They won’t change.”
But Miami hopes that their momentum can continue onto Game 1, “We improved the last three games. We were able to play our type of game, to defend and rebound. We did a much better job of that the last three games, and then played at a pace that was more appropriate for us. We were able to score more points that way, but more important get the type of actions that we like.”
New Look Philly
With new management and a new attitude the Philadelphia 76ers surprised a lot of people this year. They knocked off the top seeded Chicago Bulls in the opening round of the playoffs and stretched the Boston Celtics all the way to Game 7 of the semifinals. While the Sixers may have lost to the Celtics, they can take comfort in knowing that brighter days are finally ahead.
While this team has reached heights that they have not seen in a long time they need to stay focused on next year and turning them into a regular 50 win team and real championship contenders.
“This is the big leagues,” Managing owner Joshua Harris said. “We’re going to do what we have to do to make the team better. Whatever it takes are pretty strong words, but we’re prepared to do what we have to do as ownership, financially or otherwise, to improve the team. We want to win.”
The Sixers believe they are set in the backcourt with Turner and Holiday for seeable future, the rest of the roster remains in flux. The potential returns for seasoned veterans Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand are unclear. Iguodala has been the subject of trade rumors and the team could look to give amnesty to Brand.
Philly has now established themselves as a threat in the East and that makes them more attractive than in previous seasons. But the challenge is now to keep the train on the tracks and taking a good look at their roster. But after a decade with little to root for the Sixers are now looking forward to a brighter and more competitive future.