26 seconds away from a fifth championship. A short jump shot that goes in 99 times out of 100 away from a championship. A prayer of a three pointer that is more than likely going to miss 99 times out of 100 away from a championship.
The champagne was being taken off the ice in the Spurs locker room during Game 6 in Miami. Tim Duncan was primed to hoist his fifth championship trophy in his most complete season since 2007.
Then everything went completely wrong. You could throw a lot of blame at a certain Argentinian player not exactly showing up to play in the Finals. Get a little pulse out of him and the series turns around quite a bit.
Head Coach: The current best coach in the NBA walks the sideline for the Spurs. Gregg Popovich begins his 18th season as the Spurs coach. He's only put together a pedestrian 905-423 (68.1%) career regular season record to go with a 216-133 playoff record, five NBA Finals appearances and four championships.
He's the best in game interview in the history of the game and probably the best post game interview as coach too.
Pop has only finished under .500 once in his career and that was his first season on the Spurs bench, but then he got to draft Tim Duncan and things got magically better after that. Okay, it was a lot more than that, but this isn't a history lesson.
Pop did lose two key assistants this year who took head coaching jobs with other teams, so his bench is a bit different looking than years past. Jim Boylen, Ime Udoka, Chip Engelland and Chad Forcier are the assistants for Pop this year.
Last Season's Record: 58-24
Player Additions: Marco Belinelli and Jeff Ayres were added during free agency. Draft pick, Livio Jean-Charles, is staying overseas.
Best Player: Last season Tim Duncan put up nearly 18 points and 10 rebounds in a touch over a 30 minutes a game last season. His minutes are going to be watched again, but there is no reason to believe that Mr. Fundamental cannot have a repeat performance as last year at age 37 (38 when playoffs roll around).
Worst Player: Aron Baynes and we can just leave it at that.
Player due to breakthrough: Last year both Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green came through in big ways are and expected to show up as major contributors this year. Tiago Splitter has yet to become the player that most people thought he would be. Look for him to step up his game and add a few more points and rebounds to his stats this season.
The Starters: Tony Parker is back as the point guard; Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard are the wings, with Duncan and Splitter holding down the front line.
The Bench: The Manu Ginobili experiment continues this year and he'll fill in his normal role as sixth man, with Cory Joseph, Marco Belinelli and Nando De Colo getting the other minutes at guard. Patty Mills will be the garbage man at the point guard during blowouts.
Boris Diaw, Jeff Ayres, Matt Bonner and Aron Baynes make up the frontline reserves.
Random Seattle Connection: Assistant coach, Chad Forcier, is a proud graduate of Seattle Pacific University.
Best Case Scenario for the Season: Is obviously winning championship number five. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu only have a few years left playing and who knows how much longer Popovich is going to stay around on the bench. For this team, championship is always the goal and anything less is a failure.
Worst Case Scenario for the Season: Manu continues his slump from last season and the bench unit for the Spurs cannot score, forcing the starters (mostly Duncan and Parker) to play more minutes to try to hang with
Most Likely Scenario for the Season: The Spurs are the Spurs. They are going to win north of 55 games, but just south of 60. They'll win the Southwest division by a game or two over the Grizzlies and the number two overall seed in the West. Unfortunately they won't beat the Clippers in the Western Conference Finals this year, dropping a heart breaking 7th game in Los Angeles.
Atlanta Hawks: Peachtree Hoops
Charlotte Bobcats: Rufus on Fire
Miami Heat: Hot Hot Hoops | Sports Agent Blog
Orlando Magic: Orlando Pinstriped Post | Orlando Magic Daily
Washington Wizards: Bullets Forever