The 2013 NBA Finals still haunt San Antonio Spur fans and anti-Miami Heat fans. The Spurs had the Heat beat in Game 6, with a 3-2 series lead. Then Kawhi Leonard missed what could have been a clinching foul shot, the Spurs twice failed to corral what would have been a clinching rebound and Ray Allen hit a corner 3-pointer to send the game into overtime. Miami won Game 6, then won Game 7, and the Spurs’ title quest continues.
But does that disappointment still haunt the Spurs themselves?
Manu Ginobili was asked that very question.
“Now it’s in the back of my mind because you said it,” Ginobili said. “But I’m telling you, I’m having enough trouble thinking about Durant, Westbrook and the OKC Thunder to be thinking about 11 months ago. It’s in the past. I want to have the same opportunity again, to see if we can get it. And if we don’t, at least I put all our effort on trying to get there again.”
It’s amazing that the Spurs went six years between NBA Finals trips. They won the 2007 title, then didn’t win the West again until 2013. Now they’re two wins away from eliminating the Thunder and making another Finals.
Here’s how San Antonio’s seasons ended between 2007 and 2013:
2008: As a No. 3 seed, the Spurs beat the No. 2 New Orleans Hornets in the West semifinals, then lost 4-1 to the Lakers in the West finals.
2009: As a No. 3 seed, the Spurs were beaten 4-1 in the first round by the Dallas Mavericks. That was not a vintage Mav team, but San Antonio won just four more games (54-50) than did Dallas during the season.
2010: As a No. 7 seed, the Spurs returned the favor against Dallas, upsetting the No. 2 seeded Mavericks. But third-seeded Phoenix swept the Spurs in the West semifinals.
2011: As a No. 1 seed, the Spurs were upset by Memphis 4-2 in the first round.
2012: As a No. 1 seed, the Spurs were beaten by the Thunder 4-2 in the West finals.
So in five seasons, the Spurs went 5-5 in series. Think about that. Gregg Popovich and Ginobili and Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, with all kinds of pieces around them, went .500 over five playoff seasons.
It’s a valuable lesson. It’s hard to win in the NBA West.