Originally posted on NBA 24/7 365  |  Last updated 5/18/12

With Thursday night’s 17-point victory, San Antonio matched Oklahoma City at 6-0 in the playoffs.  Although it would be fair to say the Thunder have faced stiffer competition, it would be equally fair to say that there’s no team nearly as hot as Gregg Popovich’s band of forgotten veterans, who were supposed to be too old for this about two or three years ago.  Turns out Tim Duncan is feeling mighty spry (“better than [he's felt] in the last four or five years,” as a matter of fact), and Tony Parker is playing the best basketball of his life, which makes sense seeing as he just turned 30 years old (yesterday was his birthday).  Additionally, the dead weight that was Richard Jefferson has been sent to Golden State and Boris Diaw has been unable to locate a Burger King in San Antonio.

Yep, Diaw and the Spurs are in good shape, both literally and figuratively.  To emphasize just how well they’ve been playing, here are some assorted stats and observations.

  • They’re on a 16-game winning streak over a month old.  Tony Paker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginboli have taken a combined eight games off over the course of the streak, simply to rest.
  • They’ve topped 100 points in 15 of their last 16 games.  Impressive offense, but get this: in 12 of those 15 games they were also able to hold their opponent under 100, leading to an average margin of +17.06 (!!!).
  • Not only are they 6-0 in the playoffs thus far, but they’ve trailed the Jazz and Clippers for a grand total of just 17 minutes and 36 seconds.
  • Tim Duncan has raised his scoring by 4 PPG from last year’s playoffs, yet he’s playing 4 fewer MPG.  On a per 36 minute basis Duncan is nearly matching his ’07 output (within 2 PPG).  That’s on three fewer shots per game through a series against Utah’s formidable front line.
  • As Richard Jefferson clunked his way to 39 points on 31 shots (38.7%), Danny Green played seven total minutes in the ’11 playoffs.  In these playoffs Green has averaged 10 points per game on 12-28 from three (43%).  Kawhi Leonard is also out-shooting Jefferson at 47% from three and 49% overall.  Stephen Jackson hasn’t played a whole lot, but even he’s been able to knock down 9 of his 18 three-point attempts.  All three of Green, Leonard, and Jackson defend better than RJ, too.  Can you say addition by subtraction?
  • For the playoffs, the Spurs are out-shooting their opponents by an average of 6.5%.  That more than doubles the next best mark of +3% (Oklahoma City).  Take it beyond the three-point line, where San Antonio is shooting 7.6% better than their opponents, and things become even more unfair.
  • The bench is scoring 42 points per game.  The bench only scored 30 points per game in ’07.

I’m sure the Spurs wouldn’t want me counting up their chickens before they’ve hatched, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that they’ll be one of our Western Conference finalists.  The Thunder, up two games to none on the Lakers, figure to be our other Western Conference finalist.  With the Heat suffering through injuries and the possible effects of their game-three meltdown, the East isn’t looking all that threatening.

So, raise your hand if you had the Spurs winning the 2012 NBA title in December.  Now raise your hand if you have them winning it today.  Finally, raise your hand if you feel like you’ve been here before, probably multiple times.

One would think we’d learn, but we never do.

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