In a season dominated by the Golden State Warriors for their historic year, the San Antonio Spurs have quietly been putting together a rather historic campaign of their own but have, perhaps unfairly, not generated anything close to the amount of buzz and media acclaim that the Warriors have.
After Monday night's 102-98 win at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Spurs improved to 40-1 at the AT&T Center and tied the 1985-86 Boston Celtics for the best regular season home record in NBA history.
They were within touching distance of becoming the first team ever to go an entire campaign at home, but the juggernaut that is Golden State put a swift end to that notion. Still, losing just one game at home in a long and gruelling schedule is mightily impressive and one the Spurs organisation can be proud of.
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"That is great, tying the Boston Celtics," point guard Tony Parker said. "That's one of the legendary teams with Larry Bird, [Kevin] McHale and [Robert] Parish. So it's pretty good. It's not easy to only lose one game [at home] the whole season."
Per ESPN, the Spurs and the 1985-86 Boston Celtics share quite a bit in common. Their average margins of victory are just one point different, with San Antonio defeating opponents by 14 points, compared with 13 for the Celtics. And San Antonio logged only one more 20-point win (12) than those Celtics.
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They deserve to be proud of this and it was quite refreshing for Tony Parker to acknowledge what the team had accomplished as they have spent the entire campaign downplaying it and telling us how meaningless it is.
Head coach Greg Popovich reminded us of this as only he can when he said: "What does that get you if you're defeated? Does it win you anything? That's why it's meaningless. Maybe a cup of coffee or something. But that's about it."
Parker may have been open in saying how great it was, but Kawhi Leonard, the team's leading scorer averaging a career-best 21.2 points per game, wasn't so forthcoming and chose to echo his coach's sentiment immediately after the game.
"Going into the playoffs, it doesn't mean anything," Leonard said. "Everybody's gonna be playing hard. Everybody knows your game plan and how you play at home. So we've just got to keep playing."
Essentially, it doesn't mean anything, that's certainly true. For a winning franchise like the Spurs who class any season without the Larry O'Brien trophy as a failure, this attitude is understandable and should be commended.
As Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said recently, "Records are there to be broken, championships stay forever."
Popovich will definitely not lose any sleep over failing to go undefeated at home, their approach is solely focused on winning a championship and if they break records in the process, then so be it.
The Texas-based outfit have won 66 games, which is a franchise record and were it not for the magic of Steph Curry in the Bay Area, Kawhi Leonard would be receiving his first MVP award which is another indication of the remarkable year the Spurs have had.
Having won five championships, Popovich has a winning mentality and has drummed that into his team which is what makes the Spurs so successful.
The playoffs begin this weekend and it is the stage the Spurs live for. As much as they respect Golden State, the folks in San Antonio will not enjoy seeing them dominate the headlines on a nightly basis and will be desperate to knock them off their perch. Barring a shock, the road to the NBA finals for San Antonio will have to go through Oakland.
With no disrespect to OKC and the L.A. Clippers, basketball fans around the world are salivating at the prospect of a Spurs-Warriors matchup in the Western Conference finals. Two historic regular season teams, and arguably the two best basketball teams on the planet, facing off in a best-of-seven series will provide an incredible advert for the NBA.