Note: Some rankings still weren't in at the time this was published. We'll try to add in any if/when they come up.
With the regular season coming to a close this week, the Spurs have the league's best record and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs locked up. If this were European soccer or NASCAR, they'd already be champs. If this was the NFL, they'd be rewarded with a bye. Instead, San Antonio, like every other team in the postseason, must will its way to 16 hard-fought wins if it's to raise the Larry O'Brien trophy for a fifth time.
Few of us can argue with the way the 82-game gauntlet has gone. There have been the inevitable string of knicks, bruises and maladies, but an outstanding all-around effort, directed brilliantly by the peerless Popovich, has San Antonio in as good a position as we could've hoped for back in October.
Having moved from Texas to London last December, it's been tough to stay up to date with the team at times. Still, it's been a privilege to follow the Spurs this year and an even greater one to occasionally write about them. It would be easy to harp on about what a season it's been, but hopefully we'll have a whole summer to do that.
Instead, as the team gears up for its fifth or sixth "last hurrah", I'll borrow a line from this country's version of Pop, another old guy who people only seem to appreciate more and more as time goes by:
"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more."
Marc Stein from ESPN, (Spurs rank: 1, last week's rank: 1)
Eighteen teams have lost a Game 7 in the NBA Finals. The Spurs can match the highest ensuing winning percentage posted by those 18, tying Detroit's .780 mark in 2005-06, if they win their final two games. But these are the Spurs. So they'll presumably settle for extra rest.
Jason Patt from SBNation NBA (Spurs rank: 1, last week's rank: 1)
The Spurs clinched home-court advantage throughout the playoffs and would set the franchise record for wins in a season with victories in their final two games.
John Schuhmann from NBA.com (Spurs rank: 1, last week's rank: 1)
The Thunder matchup remains a concern, but Gregg Popovich should feel pretty good about how well his team has been defending overall. The Spurs have had the West's best defense since the All-Star break, 6.7 points per 100 possessions fewer than the league average. That's much better than they were before the break (2.8) and after the break last season (3.4).
Matt Moore from CBSSports.com (Spurs rank: 1, last week's rank 1)
I honestly don't believe this team is as good as last year's team. And yet they're the No. 1 seed overall with home court throughout the playoffs and the best net efficiency in the league. Another unbelievable job not only by Gregg Popovich, but by everyone in the... I'll say it, best organization in basketball, maybe all of sports.