San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is officially the most seasoned coach in the NBA right now.
He's the longest-serving coach in the league by over a decade and has made 19 consecutive postseasons at the helm of the Spurs. This is very little that this veteran coach hasn't seen and he knows when not to get carried away.
Even so, the Spurs have been in remarkable form this year and if it wasn't for the record-setting Warriors, the Texas-based franchise would be rightly lauded as one of the best of this era. Especially given their regular season record of 67-15 - which is a franchise best.
Popovich's men made an explosive start to the postseason too as they demolished an injury-plagued Memphis Grizzlies 106-74 in the second game of the series to stretch their advantage to 2-0.
On top of that, Kawhi Leonard has just been awarded the Defensive Player of the Year award for the second year running and became the first player operating away from the pivot to win it back-to-back since Dennis Rodman.
Everything seems rosy in San Antonio, right?
Popovich told reporters on Monday, via the San Antonio Express-News, that he's not jumping for joy at his team's latest exploits. In actual fact, he knows the difficult journey that lies ahead in the playoffs and he refuses to get carried away.
“There’s not just Golden State out there," Popovich said. "There’s the Clippers, there’s the Rockets, and there’s Oklahoma City, and so forth. And to the best of my recollection, we haven’t gotten through Memphis yet. We had one great game against a team that’s injured. I’m not all that impressed with us.”
The report also states that Popovich is "scared to death" about the road ahead, indicating that Coach Pop is acutely aware of all the dangers that lurk in the shark infested Western Conference.
Although many would think that the Spurs and Warriors have a date in the western finals, there are plenty of bumps in the road before those two can meet and it's far from a forgone conclusion.
After all, the Rockets made it all the way to the finals last year, and now they are in a repeat of that series with the Warriors in the first round.
Much like the NBA champions have Stephen Curry, the Spurs have a blossoming Leonard. The small forward dropped 32 points in the Spurs second victory over the Grizzlies and Popovich at least took some delight in his defensive showcase.
"Kawhi's a very good defender, and he takes great pride in it," Popovich said. "He did what he usually does for us. It's important. He sets the tone for us defensively, and tonight was a good example of that."
Can the Spurs go all the way? Or will Popovich's apparent nerves translate to the floor?