The San Antonio Spurs may have tried to play down the importance of Saturday night's win over the Golden State Warriors but, make no mistake about it, it was a statement victory.
Winning 87-79, the Texas franchise held the reigning NBA champions over 30 points below their season average scoring rate. A key part of that was limiting Stephen Curry to a 14 point night in which he shot just 1-of-12 from three-point range.
When you factor in home wins against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers over the past seven days, it really has been an impressive week for the Spurs. What makes it even more impressive, however, is a stat highlighted by San Antonio Express writer Jeff McDonald.
As the reporter noted on Twitter, over the recent run against the Western Conference's elite, the franchise's fabled defense has limited Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and Steph Curry to zero combined points in the fourth quarter.
Zero. Nada. Zilch. Against three of the NBA's elite offensive talents in the crunch quarter, that is truly exceptional stuff from Gregg Popovich's roster. All told, the trio only managed to put up nine shots across the three games' final 12 minutes - all of which failed to land.
The Spurs' defense has been a lockdown unit virtually all season as, in typical San Antonio style, the franchise's roster works as a unit to limit the threat posed by countless opponents.
Their performances over the past week - outside of allowing 110 points against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night - have summed that up perfectly.
Just check out this other statistical titbit from McDonald as evidence:
The Spurs' victory over the Warriors lifted them to 59-10 for the season - just three games back from their record-chasing rivals at the top of the conference - and extended their home winning streak to 44 straight.
Coming in slightly under the radar in the context of Golden State's achievements, the five-time NBA champions are undoubtedly a huge threat to the Dubs' chances of reaching the Finals for a second straight year.
Having limited Westbrook, CP3 and Curry so effectively in the latter stages of high-profile games, it stands the Spurs in good stead considering the Thunder, Clippers and Warriors present the biggest obstacles to San Antonio's own title hopes.
The old sporting adage, 'defense wins championships' is popular for a reason; it is often proven correct.
Considering San Antonio already possess the league's meanest D - allowing a league-low 92.3 points per game to this point - it is starting to look like the saying could yet ring true again in 2015-16.