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Who’s Better: The 2012 Spurs Or The 2001 Lakers?

By 05.31.12
Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan (photo. adidas)

Team basketball defines champions, and statistics don’t lie when you’re trying to determine the best NBA squads of all-time. This season, the miraculous run of San Antonio was built by team basketball, and the Spurs’ legacy is already cemented by the numbers.

The last time we saw a postseason run of these proportions came from the 2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers, who were eventual NBA champs. But even if we look ahead of the conference finals and past the NBA Finals, there’s good reason to believe that this Spurs team might be the better squad.

After all, the Spurs winning 10 straight playoff games isn’t of common occurrence. Add in the fact that they’ve won all but three of 37 games dating back to a March 12 win against the Washington Wizards, and this team isn’t successful in the postseason by happenstance.

How good are they?

If we’re getting back to the concept of team basketball, this San Antonio team trumps the 2000-01 Lakers, who relied upon heavy doses of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. The Spurs aren’t leaning on two 30-point per game scorers, youth or any means of outright athleticism to win.
Gregg Popovich has cultivated an atmosphere from veteran mentalities and smarts, then sprinkled in the holes with young players willing to follow.

And they’re doing it with speed despite their age.

Tony Parker calculates the tempo by pushing it when he needs to then getting into halfcourt sets that can only be described as hectic and controlled, the passing of Tim Duncan and his big men counterparts causing havoc in the opponent’s defensive rotations. How fluidly the offense operates cannot be compared to any team in recent memory.

The statistics don’t lie either.

This season, the Spurs are scoring an unfathomable 110.9 points per 100 possessions, slightly trumping the 2000-01 Lakers’ offensive rating of 108.4. While the Lakers’ could make a case for that being higher had the NBA implemented the hand-checking rule a few years earlier, the Spurs could make the case that the lockout-shortened season hurt the development of their offensive cohesiveness.

On defense, San Antonio looks to have the advantage as well. This year, the Spurs gave up 103.2 points per 100 possessions compared to that Los Angeles squad’s 104.8, and that came before the hand-checking rule.

It’s hard to argue against the ever-consistent and almost faceless Spurs, winners by way of majestic, unselfish basketball and a team proven special by the winning streaks and statistics

Who’s better?

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