Written by Michael
Bet on the NBAThe San Antonio Spurs have been on a historical roll since late in the regular season and so far in the 2012 NBA Playoffs. Winners of 18 straight games and sweeping both their first and second round opponents, they must be considered the strongest team in basketball right now, as well as the favorites to win their fifth championship since 1999.
The Tim Duncan-Gregg Popovich duo must be considered a dynasty at this point as the Spurs have snuck through the Western Conference and playoffs numerous times in the last decade, making it all the way to the Finals. Their last appearance in 2007 resulted in a sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers, led by an extremely talented LeBron James at the time. The Spurs now go on to face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals.
The Clippers, for their part, overachieved this season despite originally having even higher expectations. But without a true shooting guard, and with veteran Chauncey Billups going down with a ruptured Achilles tendon in February, the Clips did all they could to keep the team together and make it into the playoffs as the fourth seed in the West.
After a grueling, seven-game, first round series against the Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles' second team had proven they could operate in hostile territory in pressure situations. From Game 1 of that series, when the Clippers made a 20+ point comeback in the fourth quarter, it became clear just how high their ceiling can become with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin leading the team.
Unfortunately for them, however, they ran into the Spurs in the second round of the playoffs. Both Clippers stars were experiencing some lingering injuries and they really had no chance against San Antonio. The result was a four game sweep, a somewhat disappointing end of the road for the Clippers, but also an intensely optimistic one for LA basketball fans worried their years of championships and winning seasons may have come to an end with an aging Kobe Bryant. It will be interesting to see just what adjustments the Clippers make in the offseason to retool the team or coaching staff.