A temperature check of Spurs Nation indicates a feverish swirl of emotions and perspectives that have little to do with the team, objectively speaking, and more to do with them in the context of The Season of Steph. But sports aren't played in a vacuum and they're certainly not consumed in one, which is why we've grown accustomed to seeing the number 2 next to San Antonio's name for most of the year.
What the 15-16 Spurs have accomplished (read last week's power rankings article for a few) is worthy of all the superlatives that have come somewhat forcibly this year, usually whenever pundits required a breather from the praise that's been (100% understandably) heaped on the Warriors.
Last week Golden State appeared to cement its claim on the most impressive regular season of all time thanks in no small part to two victories over SA, including one that ended the Spurs' chances of going perfect at home. For some it was an emphatic showing of the Warriors' dominance over their alleged contenders. But those of us who like to take our losses laced with an asterisk or two will note the pear-shaped absence of a key member of San Antonio's bench.
Boris Diaw, who played a big role in the Spurs' only win over Golden State this year, sat out last week's two meetings with a right adductor injury. Is he the pivotal ace up Pop's sleeve -- a piece Extraneous G opted to remove from the table and not allow Golden State to adequately scheme for? Or are we just blissfully ignoring his less-impactful performance in the two teams' first meeting of the season, which the Spurs lost by 30?
The season wraps up this week with a back-to-back: at home against OKC on Tuesday and at Dallas on Wednesday. The Spurs can still play to tie the 85-86 Celtics' 40-1 home record, but we'll see if they decide to. Boris Diaw has already been listed as/upgraded to questionable, for what it's worth.
This will also be the last Power Rankings piece for the season. If you didn't care for the music but still hunger for white-hot takes, give @realskipbayless a follow. If you've kept up with them for most of the year and kindly humored the odd metaphorical tangent, thanks -- and see you in the playoffs!
Go Spurs go.
Marc Stein, ESPN (Spurs rank: 2, Last week's rank: 2)
The Spurs' latest alleged "final season they'll be good" has been a doozy so far. Something tells me Gregg Popovich won't be too concerned about losing the season series to Golden State -- especially because the very key Boris Diaw missed the two duels we just saw -- but Tony Parker's state does have to be at least a mild worry. Parker and Danny Green were outscored 51-6 by the Warriors' backcourt Sunday night.
Matt More, CBS Sports (Spurs rank: 2, Last week's rank: 2)
(A+) -- Losing that game to the Warriors shouldn't sting a bit. Popovich didn't show all his cards. Boris Diaw and Tim Duncan didn't play, and the Spurs were still there. They're not as good as the Warriors this season; that doesn't mean they won't have a very good chance to knock them off in six weeks' time.
Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated (Spurs rank: 2, Last week's rank: 2)
This might be Gregg Popovich's best Spurs team ever, and this might be one of the best defensive teams ever, period, but in this strange world, this is clearly the second-best regular-season team in the league. Here's hoping for seven games with Golden State.
USA Today (Spurs rank: N/A, Last week's rank: 2)
Site was down when I checked.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com (Spurs rank: 2, Last week's rank: 2)
Maybe the most powerful thing the Warriors have done is make the best player of his generation obsolete. Tim Duncan played just 27 minutes -fewer than Kyle Anderson or Kevin Martin (in his five weeks with the Spurs) - against the champs and it's not clear that he'd have a bigger role in the playoffs should the two teams meet again. The Spurs will have the tougher road and have had their struggles with the Thunder.
David Aldridge, NBA.com (Spurs rank: N/A, Last week's rank: 2)
Warriors' win at AT&T Center Sunday night ends the Spurs' 33-game regular season win streak over the Warriors in San Antonio,dating back to Feb. 14, 1997.