With the 2016 Academy Awards fresh in our minds, here's a relevant clip from 1985 Best Picture winner, Amadeus:
Me 30 years from now, maybe:
"How well do you know basketball?"
"Do you recall the 2015-16 San Antonio Spurs?"
"They were a very successful team in their day! And that was their 17th 50-win season in a row!"
It's obviously not set in stone, but Spurs fans might have to at least accept the statistical likelihood that this season becomes the Antonio Salieri to the Warriors' Mozart, an oeuvre of brilliance that would shine in almost any other epoch were it not for some plucky wunderkinds.
San Antonio didn't emerge from the All-Star break completely in tune, with a blowout loss to the Clippers followed by lackluster performances against the Lakers and Suns, but last week saw a marked improvement for the Silver and Black. With the return of Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs looked more the part of the NBA's second-best team in wins against the Kings, Jazz and Rockets. They won by double digits in all three contests and allowed no more than 94 points in each.
And yet, there's understandably little buzz about a team on pace for nearly 70 wins. That's what happens when Stephen Curry is going Biblical with his nightly raining of threes upon opponents, culminating in performances like what happened in OKC.
Last week also marked the surprising acquisition of veteran point guard Andre Miller. The move signals the end of Ray McCallum's time as a Spur, and also led to a Michael Doleac reference from PtR's Michael Erler. There are also rumblings that Miller won't be the last Minnesota player the Spurs pick up. Here's an important note on that, via ESPN's Marc Stein:
Kevin Martin must be bought out by Tuesday to be playoff-eligible; sources say San Antonio's pitch, among many suitors, is strongest so far.— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 27, 2016
For more extracurricular reading from ESPN, Tom Haberstroh's piece on Kawhi Leonard and body analytics is also worth your time if you haven't checked it out already. Also (a last-minute-before-publishing-bonus!), here's some interesting news about former Grantlander Kirk Goldsberry joining the Spurs.
In what will be one of their lightest remaining slates, the Spurs have games against Pistons, Kings and the unkillable Pelicans this week. The schedule toughens after that, which should make for a fitting climax for a team hoping to continue to get better with time.
Marc Stein, ESPN (Spurs rank: 2, Last week's rank: 2)
A 7-1 mark on the Rodeo Road Trip, which also featured the safe return from a calf issue for Kawhi Leonard and more big numbers from LaMarcus Aldridge, enabled the Spurs to become just the ninth team in history to reach 50 wins in fewer than 60 games. This is the first season in league history in which two teams have done that, with San Antonio up to a ridiculous 17 50-win seasons in a row.
USA Today (Spurs rank: 2, Last week's rank: 2)
San Antonio extended its streak of at least 50 wins in a season for the 17th consecutive year, an NBA record.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com (Spurs rank: 2, Last week's rank: 2)
Kawhi Leonard returned from a three-game absence and reclaimed his league lead in 3-point percentage by shooting 8-for-14 from beyond the arclast week. More important is that the Spurs held the Kings, Jazz and Rockets to less than 90 points per 100 possessions to finish 7-1 on the rodeo trip. They have only six games remaining against teams currently under .500, and three of them are in the next nine days.
David Aldridge, NBA.com (Spurs rank: 2, Last week's rank: 2)
Adding 83-year-old Andre Miller to the crew is so Spurs I can't stand it.
Matt Moore, (CBS Sports) Spurs rank: 2, Last week's rank: 3)
They're on pace to be the greatest 69-win afterthought in NBA history. No team has won 69 games and failed to win the title. Unfortunately, no team has won however many games the Warriors will wind up winning and failed to win the title, either.
Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated (Spurs rank: 2, Last week's rank: 2)
Yes, the Spurs like to rest their guys when possible, and yes, that frustrates some purists. But Gregg Popovich, master of pacing, has now led them to an astounding 17 consecutive wins in second games of back-to-backs.