The last defending champs to end up as a sixth seed the next season were the '95 Rockets, who went through the third-, second- and first-seeded teams (the last of which being the Admiral's Spurs), en route to a sweep of Shaq, Penny and the Orlando Magic.
You don't need a piece of trivia to know that the Spurs have the same kind of potential in them. They're a title contender that just so happens to have a higher number next to their name (and the added challenge of playing more games on the road), much to the chagrin of a team like the Clippers, after winning a hard-fought battle for the West's three seed.
That number by the Spurs' name (6) just so happens to be the one on every fan's mind, as well, as Pop and Tim look to build on their five championships won across five presidential terms.
The Chase for Seis begins anew on Sunday night. To whet your appetite (and keep your mind off Tiago Splitter's still-uncertain status), check out the pieces below and see what some writers are saying about the Spurs. Just click on the links to read the full articles.
Mike Prada from SBNation gives his postseason outlook for San Antonio:
Depending on who you ask, the Spurs may even be the favorite, even with Golden State's superlative regular season. The Spurs did beat the Warriors twice when Golden State was at full strength, after all.
I also really enjoyed Tom Ziller's
45 43 most exciting players of the postseason. Can you guess which Spur cracked the top five?
He's never played better than he has the last couple of months, and he has a Finals MVP under his belt. He can stop any single player in the playoffs. I mean, you saw what he did to Steph, right?
Over at Yahoo! Sports, Kelly Dwyer previews the Spurs-Clippers series, saying Spurs in 6:
Both of these teams have to win, now. Blake Griffin may be just 26 and Leonard won't turn 24 until after the Finals, but these are both win-now crews that have to put something together in 2015. Chris Paul and Tony Parker aren't going to fall apart any time soon, but the Clippers would be deadened after wasting what was just about a perfect season from CP3, and the Spurs have to strike while Parker (who turns 33 next month) is still potent. Los Angeles' inability to add rotation help in the offseason (thanks to some win-now gobbling by Rivers as GM) and the looming potential for Tim Duncan's retirement also come into play.
And they're playing in the first round. Bloody hell, this West.
Meanwhile, Yahoo! Sports' Dan Devine ranks each series.
They've been two of the four best teams in the NBA since the All-Star break. L.A. closed the season on a 14-2 run after getting All-Star power forward Blake Griffin back from elbow surgery to seize third place in the West. Their reward? A first-round matchup with the peaking-at-the-right-time defending champs, the only team whose offense more summarily scorched the opposition than the Clips' over the final month. We never promised you a rose garden, Clippers fans.
USA Today has their preview of the series here:
Did you know? The last time the Clippers made the playoffs and the Spurs didn't was 1996-97. Popovich was named interim coach of the Spurs that season, and the Clippers were led by Loy Vaught, Malik Sealy and Rodney Rogers.
And here's the ESPN writers doing their 5-on-5 thing, discussing each Western Conference matchup:
Shelburne: Epic. This has the potential to be the best first-round series of the playoffs. It's also the Warriors' dream scenario, as one of the two teams that had a real shot to knock them off will go out in Round 1. I thought the Clippers could make a run this season, but the Spurs should exploit their lack of depth and win this one in six.
So what do you guys think? Share your thoughts below on what you think will be the deciding factors of the series and -- why not -- cast your own predictions, as well.
Just don't jinx things.