Which way are things leaning heading into the 2011-12 season? After breaking down every team in the NBA, ESPN’s 5-on-5 squad takes aim at each league division.
Here’s what they see for the rough-and-tough Southwest, particularly the San Antonio Spurs:
Note: Over means they reach the NBA Finals. Under means they do not reach the West finals. Push means they lose in the West finals.
Rob Peterson, Hardwood Paroxysm: Under. Though, every time I think the Spurs will slide, they prove me wrong. Last season, they proved everyone wrong. I don’t think they have another 55-win campaign in them. No one manages his players’ minutes as well as Gregg Popovich, but not even he can make Tim Duncan or Manu Ginobili young again. They’ve had their time.
Chris Palmer, ESPN The Magazine: Under. I think it’s officially over in San Antonio. The way they got bounced in the first round by Memphis was demoralizing. Age, injuries and now apathy will finally do them in. They may creep to 50 wins but I’m seeing another first-round exit in their very near future, too.
Andrew McNeil, 48 Minutes of Hell: Tough call, I’m going to say under. A lot of things went right for the Spurs last season up until the latter stages of the regular season, and then a lot of things went wrong. The type of players the Spurs want to bring in won’t help them win games in the regular season.
Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: Push. Fifty-five wins sounds about right for a team that, although no longer a contender, will still be formidable. With the Spurs locked into a few big contracts that no one else will want, they have no choice but to make one more title push. They’ll fall short of their goals, but along the way they’ll manage to win 55.
Justin DeFeo, Nets Are Scorching: Under. That slam you heard? That was the sound of the Spurs’ title window closing. With the core of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker getting older by the day, the Spurs are at the tail end of a dynasty.
Given how the Spurs succeeded last season enroute to 61 wins, and then flared out in the first round series against the Memphis Grizzlies, it’s not surprising to see most writers think that San Antonio will not reach the Western Conference Finals next season much less reach 55 regular season wins.
However, I like Gordian’s optimism about the Spurs.
55 wins for me sounds about right, especially if Kawhi Leonard and Cory Joseph pans out as expected, getting to the West finals is a different story, the West became tougher and stronger a year ago while the Spurs got older.
It’s not entirely impossible for the Spurs to win the championship, but the road to another title will be very tough, a lot of things have to be right in San Antonio for them to get it done.
What do you guys think? I’m curious about what you have to say.