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February 24th, 2014
The NBA season has fewer than 30 games left before the playoffs. It’s early to say with complete confidence how the playoffs will turn out, but it’s not too early at all to give reasons why teams can claim the world championship of professional basketball. How can the San Antonio Spurs win the fifth NBA title in franchise history and gain what they lost last June?
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1 – Gregg Popovich
Legal sports betting sites that monitor the NBA are going to tell you that more than Tim Duncan or Tony Parker, Popovich is truly the biggest reason why the Spurs can get where they want to go. The Spurs manage to survive the regular season each year because Popovich cultivates quality depth. He has a full roster of players ready to play all the time. He can rest Duncan or Parker or Manu Ginobili in a given game, and a backup is not only able to play, but play well. The Spurs win games without multiple starters. They don’t experience a huge drop-off when two key players in their eight- or nine-man rotation get hurt. They continue to find ways to win when they’re tired or unhealthy. They continue to make adjustments that most teams and coaches in the league simply aren’t able to perform. Popovich is the key, the hub of the Spurs’ activity and the source of the organization’s creativity. The ability of the Spurs to adapt to just about any situation makes them so dangerous each season, especially in the playoffs. There’s one man who, more than anyone else, makes this possible, and it’s not anyone who wears basketball shorts. It’s the guy in the suit who prowls the bench and gives those really short in-game interviews to nervous sideline reporters.
2 – Tony Parker
This is the engine that makes the Spurs’ offense goes. Patty Mills has scored a lot of points coming out of the All-Star break, but no one would dare suggest that the Spurs can win the title with him. Parker, who is currently injured, is being rested by Popovich so that he can fully heal, as was the case last season when he was also injured after the All-Star break. If Parker is fully healthy or very close to it, his speed off the dribble – which is still there – enables San Antonio to cause defenses to collapse, which sets up kickouts to wing shooters such as Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard. San Antonio gets floor spacing and ball movement from Parker’s actions. Tim Duncan can feast on the boards because defenders are out of position due to Parker’s drives.
3 – Kawhi Leonard
Over the past 10 years, Tim Duncan has been the on-court anchor of the Spurs as a franchise, but as he gets older, the younger players on the roster become more prominent. Leonard, who is currently injured, needs to get healthy for the postseason. If he does make a full recovery, the young star will be the Spurs’ most essential frontcourt player, even more than Duncan. Leonard can take on the toughest defensive assignments. He can shoot threes. He is a ruthless rebounder. He plays so many roles for this team, and he does so at a high level. Even if Parker is on the court, Leonard has to be there with him if the Spurs are to realize all their goals.