Day 27 of our 30-team NBA playoff flashback profiles the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs franchise has four NBA titles, and has 19 playoff appearances since the 1991-92 season.
Date: April 19, 2008
Situation: The No. 3 San Antonio Spurs and the No. 6 Phoenix Suns open up the first round of the playoffs
Context: With the 2006-07 season ending in a title, the Spurs had firmly established themselves as a dynasty. Since the 1998-99 season, Gregg Popovich’s first full season as head coach, San Antonio had won four NBA championships, and won 50 games every year but one — the 1998-99 lockout-shortened season, when the Spurs finished an NBA-best 37-13 and won the franchise’s first title. The Spurs were led by the usual cast of characters during the 2007-08 season, with Manu Ginobili (19.5 points, 40.1 percent from three), Tim Duncan (19.3 points, 11.3 rebounds) and Tony Parker (18.8 points, 6.0 assists) pacing the offense. The Spurs finished just 28th in the NBA in scoring, averaging 95.4 points per game, but they allowed the third-fewest points (90.6 per game) and had the league’s third best defensive rating (101.8). For the 10th time in 11 years, the Spurs won 50 games, finishing 56-26, and drew the Suns in the first round of the playoffs.
Recap: A quartet of dramatic shots defined the series opener, highlighted by the first three-pointer of the season by a future Hall of Famer. The Spurs, trailing for most of the game, were down 93-90 with 15 seconds left in regulation. Veteran Michael Finley then drained a three-pointer, ultimately forcing overtime. At the end of the first overtime, Tim Duncan gave fans one of those “Where were you when that happened?” moments. Duncan, who hadn’t hit a three-pointer during the regular season, hit a trey with three seconds left in the first overtime and the Spurs down, 104-101, forcing a second extra period. At the end of the second overtime, it was the Suns’ turn to hit a dramatic shot. Steve Nash hit a three with 15 seconds left in the period, tying the game at 115. But Manu Ginobili managed to finish off one of the most exciting playoff games in league history, banking in a runner with 1.8 seconds left to give the Spurs the win.San Antonio won, 117-115, in double-overtime.
Top players: Tim Duncan finished with 40 points and 15 rebounds, his fourth 40-point, 15-rebound game in the playoffs. Tony Parker finished with 26, and Manu Ginobili scored 24. Amar’e Stoudemire led the Suns with 33 points. Steve Nash had 25 points and 13 assists. Four other Suns also scored in double digits: Raja Bell (14), Leandro Barbosa (12), Boris Diaw (12) and Shaquille O’Neal (11).
After the game: The Spurs managed to win the series comfortably, dropping only Game 4 en route to a 4-1 win. San Antonio then fought off a 2-0 series deficit against the Hornets, and advanced to the West finals in seven games. The Lakers dominated San Antonio in the conference finals, though, including a 30-point win in Game 2, and the Spurs were eliminated in five games. San Antonio won at least 50 games and made the playoffs each of the next three seasons, but failed to make it further than the semifinals, including two first round exits.
Check back tomorrow for the Bulls.
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