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If the Thunder Close Out the Spurs, is it the End of an Era?

Six players on the Spurs’ roster are 30 or older, led by future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan (36) and Manu Ginobili (34). This San Antonio core last won a title in 2007, and since then, its postseasons have looked like this:

2008 – Lost in the conference finals to the Lakers, 4-1
2009 – Lost in the first round to Dallas, 4-1
2010 – Lost in the second round to Phoenix, 4-0
2011 – Lost in the first round to Memphis, 4-2

So the question becomes whether this postseason was a revival, or perhaps … something else. Twenty wins in a row bridging the regular season and playoffs, postseason sweeps of Utah and the beat-up Clippers, and briefly, a 2-0 lead over bouncy OKC. Impressive stuff. Let’s go with revival.

But let’s say the Spurs lose tonight. Duncan says he wants to stick around another year or two. Parker and Manu are signed through next year (Parker, only 30, is locked up through 2015). But two of the young players so vital to the strong season – Danny Green and Gary Neal – are free agents. Boris Diaw is, too. But are those positions – shooting guard, backup point guard and power forward – fairly easy to replace?

Answer: Maybe. The replacements might already be on the roster – James Anderson (former 1st round pick), Cory Joseph (last year’s first round pick) and DeJuan Blair (who was the starter before Diaw arrived via trade) or Tiago Splitter. (Let’s not forget they have former draft pick Erazem Lorbek, a dominant European player, stashed.)

I’m not sure the Spurs are completely done … with this series. I’m guessing the young, inexperienced Thunder are feeling pretty good about themselves right now. Let’s not forget, they needed two Laker meltdowns late to eliminate LA, and blew the first game in San Antonio despite a 4th quarter lead. I don’t think tonight is a lock. Gun to head, I’d pick OKC, 101-99.

Sidenote: Will we see a third straight night of “Heroball” winners? James Harden and Paul Pierce defied the stats and decided to take “Heroball” shots on their own … and made them. (We could be on a 3rd straight night if Wade’s 3-pointer fell in Boston Sunday.)

Sidenote II: Stephen Jackson “makes love to pressure” so expect a big game out of Captain Jack tonight.

 

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