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Carlisle: Spurs 'best team in basketball'

If you look at the NBA standings today, the San Antonio Spurs have the best record in the league at 54-13, but the respect factor doesn't seem to be there for one of the league's oldest teams.

Some would consider the Los Angeles Lakers (48-20) the best team in the league, especially after the 99-83 victory against the Spurs on March 6.

But Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle thinks the Spurs are the best team in the NBA.

"This is by far the best team in basketball, they have been all year long," Carlisle said during the morning shootaround Friday. "This is a challenge you get excited about."

Asked for specifics on why the Spurs are better than the Lakers, Carlisle said, "They're record isn't nearly as good, so I look at the record and make that statement. Consistency. They've been extremely consistent, they've been healthy all year [and] very efficient. Terrific at both ends and it's culminated with a great record for them."

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich wasn't buying it.

"He's by far the biggest exaggerator I've ever seen," Popovich said. "He's being quite disingenuous."

The Spurs-Mavs rivalary is one of the best ones in the NBA, and Friday's game most will likely have the feel of a playoff game.

There were place cards in the seats at the American Airlines Center that said, "Beat the Spurs" so the Mavs promotional staff is getting people ready.

"It's always been a good rivalry," Popovich said. "It always will be. Proximity sort of dictates it."