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NBA playoffs: Spurs show why they’re great

The San Antonio Spurs were supposed to be dead and buried already. This is a team, after all, that lost point guard and future Hall of Famer Tony Parker in Game 2 of its Western Conference semis to a torn quad, putting him out for the remainder of the season.

At that point in time, Parker’s Spurs were wrapping up a Game 2 victory that evened the series at 1-1 going to Houston, where the Rockets looked to take a stranglehold on the series. Instead, the teams split their matchups, setting up the all-important Game 5 on Tuesday night in San Antonio. The contest raged deep into the second half and then into overtime, where the Spurs, who lost Kawhi Leonard down the stretch with 33, found a way to win, 110-107.

Despite everything going against them, and playing without Leonard and Parker in the most crucial minutes of their season, the Spurs beat one of the four best teams in the world. Houston was getting a phenomenal performance from MVP candidate James Harden, who poured in 33 points to go with 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Harden was helped out by Patrick Beverley, who continues to play his elite brand of defense while chipping in with 20 points on the offensive end.

Still, it was San Antonio, figuring out a way to get within one win of the Western Conference Finals. The Spurs were led by Leonard, who despite consistent pain was able to score a team-high 22 points along with 15 boards. Patty Mills also stepped up with 20 points, while LaMarcus Aldridge totaled 18 points and 14 rebounds. Pau Gasol was brutal, only playing 20 minutes and leaving the court with just four points.

Yet it was Gregg Popovich’s team showcasing once more the heart of a champion. Nobody believes the Spurs are going to beat the Golden State Warriors in the next round, should they get there. San Antonio will be hobbling in against the best team in the league, and one that has not lost in the playoffs yet. It would be one of the biggest stunners in NBA history if San Antonio were to beat the Warriors with a now-injured Kawhi Leonard and without Parker.

Regardless, it remains incredible that the Spurs are even in the position to dream about such a scenario while they rely on Mills and Danny Green as their starting backcourt. With all due respect to both players, each is more suited to come off the bench.

With one more victory, San Antonio goes once more to the conference finals, taking on the biggest, baddest bear of the league. It seems an impossible thought for the Spurs to take the Warriors down. Then again, doubting them would be the biggest folly of all.

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