Stats & Info: San Antonio Spurs

The stats behind the ESPY candidates

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
Adam Pretty/Getty ImagesThis is what they hope to win.
With the ESPY Awards almost upon us, let's take a look at three of the top categories to provide statistical insight into who may walk away with the trophy as Best Male Athlete, Best Female Athlete and Best Team.

Best Male Athlete
Miguel Cabrera – MLB
Cabrera led the majors in batting average (.348) and finished second in home runs (44) and runs batted in (137). His 9.0 offensive wins above replacement was second in MLB. Cabrera became the first player to win consecutive MVP awards in the AL since Frank Thomas in 1993-94 and just the seventh man in AL history.

Kevin Durant – NBA
Durant was the first player since Shaquille O’Neal in 1999-2000 to lead the NBA in points per game (32.0), player efficiency rating (29.9) and win shares (19.2). Durant also made history this season by becoming the fourth player to average at least 32 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists, joining Hall of Fame players Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor.

Peyton Manning – NFL
Manning set the NFL single-season records for passing TDs (55) and passing yards (5,477). Manning had a Total QBR of 95.8 in the red zone as well as an overall Total QBR of 82.9, which ranked second in the league. Manning was spectacular in his first two playoff games, putting up QBR numbers of 91.1 and 88.8 to get to his second Super Bowl.

Floyd Mayweather – Boxing
Mayweather defeated Saul “Canelo” Álvarez by landing almost double the punches (232 to 117) en route to a majority decision victory. That fight also set the record for largest gate in Nevada State Boxing history at over $20 million. Mayweather then defeated Marcos Maidana by majority decision in May. Mayweather landed 54 percent of total punches and 65 percent of power punches. He earned $105 million for the two fights.

Best Female Athlete
Maya Moore – WNBA
Moore was named the 2013 WNBA Finals MVP for the Minnesota Lynx, averaging 20 points per game in a three-game sweep of the Atlanta Dream. Moore was the top three-point shooter in the regular season at 45.3 percent and scored 18.8 points per game, third in the league.

Ronda Rousey – MMA
Rousey moved her MMA record to 10-0 over the past year, recording the first two knockouts of her career in wins over Sara McMann and Alexis Davis. In December, Rousey won her eighth fight by armbar when she defeated Miesha Tate at UFC 168. In her last three fights, Rousey has landed 77 percent of her takedowns.

Mikaela Shiffrin – Alpine Skiing
Shiffrin became the youngest Olympic slalom gold medalist when she won in Sochi at age 18. She ended the 2014 season as the reigning Olympic, World Cup and world champion in slalom. In the 2014 season, Shiffrin won five times and had six podiums in slalom.

Breanna Stewart – WCBB
Stewart led the UConn women’s basketball team to their second national title in a row and in doing so won her second consecutive Final Four Most Outstanding Player award. Stewart led the team in points per game (19.4) and rebounds per game (8.1) and in the national title game scored 21 points (18 in the paint) to lead the Huskies.

Best Team
Boston Red Sox – MLB
The Boston Red Sox won their third World Series in 10 years by leading the majors in runs scored, slugging and OPS. David Ortiz led the charge for the Red Sox, hitting .688 (11-for-16) with two home runs and six RBIs in the World Series while Jon Lester went 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA.

Los Angeles Kings – NHL
The Los Angeles won their second Stanley Cup in three years with Jonathan Quick in net. Quick won 43 games (regular season and playoffs) and posted a 2.07 GAA (fifth-lowest). In the playoffs, Justin Williams took home the Conn Smythe for playoff MVP, scoring nine goals with 16 assists, including the OT winner in Game 1. The Kings had a plus-17 goal differential in the 3rd period/OT (plus-1 in first two periods).

San Antonio Spurs – NBA
The San Antonio Spurs were sixth in both points per game (105.4) and fewest points allowed (97.6) which helped them lead the NBA in wins with 62. The Spurs set the NBA Finals record in the three-point era (since 1979-80) for effective field goal percentage (60.4 percent) and offensive rating (118.5). Tim Duncan became the all-time leader in playoff double-doubles, but Kawhi Leonard was the star. Leonard averaged 17.8 points on 61 percent shooting in the Finals, becoming the second-youngest Finals MVP.

Seattle Seahawks – NFL
The Seattle Seahawks defense ranked first in points per game allowed, receiving yards allowed and total yards allowed. In the Super Bowl, the Seahawks shut the Broncos high-scoring offense down, winning by 35 points which was the third-largest win in Super Bowl history. Russell Wilson threw 26 touchdowns in the regular season and in the Super Bowl put up a Total QBR of 88.1. Richard Sherman led the NFL with eight interceptions and caused the interception that sent the Seahawks to the Super Bowl.

UConn Women’s Basketball – WCBB
The Connecticut Huskies are one of eight teams to finish the season undefeated after their 40-0 season. The Huskies finished the season outscoring opponents by 34.3 points per game while holding opponents to just 47.8 points per game. Along with Breanna Stewart, Bria Hartley was second on the team with 16.2 points per game and center Stephanie Dolson scored 17 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in the Huskies national title win over Notre Dame.

Florida State Football – CFB
Florida State won the national championship and completed at 14-0 undefeated season by averaging 51.6 points per game. On defense, FSU led college football in both interceptions (26) and interceptions returned for touchdowns (5). Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston had an 88.5 adjusted QBR and threw for over 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns. He threw the game-winning touchdown pass in the national title game to Kelvin Benjamin, who was second on the team in receiving yards (1,011) and led the team with 15 touchdowns.

Spurs historically dominant in 2014 Finals

June, 16, 2014
Jun 16

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty ImagesThe Spurs became the fifth NBA franchise to win at least five championships.
The San Antonio Spurs ended the Miami Heat’s run at a historic threepeat, and also made a little bit of a history of their own en route to a fifth title, joining the Celtics, Lakers and Bulls as the only franchises to do so in NBA history.

The Spurs became the first team since the 1988-89 Pistons to win a title the season after losing the NBA Finals in seven games.

San Antonio made their mark in emphatic fashion.

Dominant Finals
All four of the Spurs wins came by at least 15 points, outscoring the Heat by an average of 14 per game for the series.

That’s the largest points per game differential in NBA Finals history, breaking the record of +12.6 PPG by the 1964-65 Celtics in their victory over the Lakers.

The Spurs have traditionally been known for their defense, but it was their offense which was historic in the Finals. San Antonio averaged 118.5 points per 100 possessions in the 2014 NBA Finals, and had an effective field-goal percentage of 60.4 in the five-game victory. Those are both the highest marks since the advent of the 3-point line in the 1979-80 season.

Popovich and Duncan Do It Again
Gregg Popovich is the fifth coach in NBA history to win five championships. All five of them have come with Tim Duncan, with their first title coming in 1999.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 15-year span between their first and most recent titles together is the longest for a player/coach duo in NBA history. It broke the record of 10 years by Phil Jackson with Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher.

In terms of players only, the 15-year span between first and last titles for Duncan is the second-longest in NBA history. Duncan trails only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 17-year streak (1971-88) on that list.

Duncan also became the second player in NBA history to win a title in three different decades, joining John Salley.

Duncan Didn’t Do It Alone
Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have now won four NBA titles together as teammates. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, they’re the first set of at least three teammates to win four titles together since the Showtime Lakers did it with Magic Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Cooper and Kurt Rambis.

Duncan, Parker and Ginobili have registered 117 playoff wins as teammates, the most in NBA history by a trio.

Those three, with Popovich, will likely make another run at a title in 2014-15. Parker, Ginobili and Popovich each have contracts that expire after next season, and Duncan will be back if he picks up his $10.4M player option.

In fact, the Spurs only have four unrestricted free agents on their roster from this season: Boris Diaw, Patty Mills, Matt Bonner and Damion James.

MVP Leonard does it all

June, 16, 2014
Jun 16

Soobum Im/USA TODAY SportsKawhi Leonard dominated the final three games of the NBA Finals.
Kawhi Leonard scored 22 points and recorded 10 rebounds Sunday night in the Spurs' 104-87 Game 5 victory en route to winning the NBA Finals MVP. At 22 years, 351 days old, he's the third-youngest recipient of that award since the NBA began handing it out in 1969.

He's also the fifth-youngest player to record at least 20 points and grab 10 boards in a series-clinching NBA Finals game and the youngest to do that since Kobe Bryant in 2001 (22 years, 296 days).

But his performance in Game 5 transcends regular box score stats. Let's take a look at his contributions.

On offense

Leonard led the Spurs in scoring the final three games of the series after scoring nine points in each of the first two games.

His offensive impact became greater when he started to attack the basket.

Leonard had just two points in the paint on seven drives in Games 1 and 2 combined. In Games 3-5, he scored 24 points on 19 drives.

He also led the Spurs in 3-point shooting in the Finals, shooting 58 percent. Leonard was a team-best 10-of-18 (56 percent) on catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts.

Better yet, he stepped it up against the Heat's best player. Leonard shot 65 percent when guarded by LeBron James in the series.

On defense

Game 5 was another reminder of Leonard’s defensive impact on James.

James attempted only one shot against Leonard in the first quarter Sunday, which in part led to him shooting 5-of-7 (71 percent) in the quarter. James was unable to get away from Leonard consistently afterward, however, shooting 6-of-14 (43 percent) the rest of the game.

Leonard's defense on James in the series was key. James shot 57.6 percent against him, but he wasn’t always able to get his shot off or even get the ball.

Only 19 percent of James' touches against Leonard in the Finals resulted in a James field goal attempt. Against all other defenders, that rate jumped to 33 percent.

LeBron was held without a touch on 33 percent of the Heat's possessions when he was guarded by Leonard. Against all other defenders, he was held without a touch 23 percent of the time.

When Leonard did find himself on someone other than James, his defense was still strong. The rest of the Heat shot 28 percent (5-of-18) against Leonard in the Finals.

Double teams hurting the Heat defense

June, 14, 2014
Jun 14

Robert Duyos/Sun Sentinel/Getty ImagesThe Heat defense has really struggled against the Spurs in the Finals.

The Miami Heat defense has been out of sorts in the 2014 NBA Finals – so much out of sorts that the San Antonio Spurs are on pace for the highest effective field-goal percentage in an NBA Finals series since the 3-point line was implemented.

Why are the Heat struggling so much defensively?

Drives to the basket

In the 2013 NBA Finals, the Heat stayed home on shooters when the Spurs drove to the basket.

The Heat aren't allowing any more drives than they did last year. The Spurs averaged 33.7 drives per game in last year's Finals and 33 per game this year.

The difference is how often they’re passing the ball: The Spurs passed the ball on 24 percent of their drives in last year's Finals. This year, the Spurs are passing the ball on 36 percent of their drives.

Too many double-teams

The Spurs are passing the ball more often on drives because the Heat are double-teaming the Spurs so often and leaving guys open.

With how adept the Spurs are at moving the ball, the Heat double-teams have been ineffective.

The Heat are switching defenders on virtually every screen in this series. Because of that, they find themselves often doubling the ball, whether it’s a hard double or a hedge.

When the Heat double-team the Spurs, just over half of the Spurs half-court field-goal attempts are uncontested. But when the Heat don't double the ball at all, only 18 percent of the Spurs half-court field-goal attempts are uncontested.

The Spurs effective field-goal percentage is 79 when the Heat double-team the ball in the half-court this series (including 55 percent on 3-pointers), compared to a 52 effective field-goal percentage when they don’t double.

Imagine if the Heat could play straight up defense without doubling the ball and without giving up any open shots. It sounds like a pipe dream, but the Heat are holding the Spurs to a 49 effective field-goal percentage on those shots. By comparison, the Spurs have been nearly twice as prolific (89 effective field-goal percentage) when the Heat double and leave a shooter open.

Based on these numbers, perhaps the Heat should rethink their strategy of switching on every screen and getting caught doubling the ball.

Stats to know: More dominance for Spurs

June, 13, 2014
Jun 13
The San Antonio Spurs shooting wasn’t quite as impressive as it was in Game 3. But their blowout win against the Miami Heat in Game 4 was a near-match

The Spurs have won three straight road games after starting 2-5 on the road this postseason. They snapped the Heat’s streak of 48 consecutive games without consecutive playoff losses (third-best all-time) and the Heat’s 13-game playoff win streak following a loss.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that the Spurs join the 1977 Trail Blazers as the only teams to win back-to-back games by 19 or more points in the NBA Finals.

The Spurs are one win shy of their fifth NBA title. They are 10-0 under Gregg Popovich in best-of-7 series when taking a 3-1 lead. The Heat trail a series 3-1 for the first time in their Big 3 era.

Difference-Maker: Kawhi Leonard
For the second straight game, Kawhi Leonard played on a level unlike any he’d played before.

Leonard finished with 20 points, 14 rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots. He’s the first player to put up that stat line in an NBA Finals game since his teammate, Tim Duncan, did so in 2003. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that the only other player to hit all those benchmarks in a Finals game since blocks and steals became official in 1974 was Hakeem Olajuwon in 1986

Leonard had his 11th career postseason double-double. Five of those have come against the Heat.

Spurs shred the Heat in many ways
The Spurs dominated this game with both power and precision. They shot 74 percent in the paint (23 for 31).

They also were 10 for 14 on shots that came off possessions in which they made at least five passes.

LeBron does his best, but gets little help
LeBron James tried to spark a Heat comeback attempt, but his efforts came up well short. James had 19 of the Heat’s 21 points in the third quarter and 28 of their first 57 points in the game.

James was 10 for 17 from the field. The other Heat starters were 11 for 34.

The Spurs did a good job containing James in the first half. His average shot distance in the first two quarters was 18 feet.

Milestones for Duncan
Tim Duncan became the NBA’s all-time postseason leader in two stats- most minutes played, surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and postseason double-doubles. His 158 are one more than Magic Johnson.

Looking Ahead
Only eight teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit in any best-of-7 series. The last was the 2006 Phoenix Suns against the Lakers. No team in NBA Finals history has overcome a 3-1 series deficit.

Top stats to know: Spurs win Game 3

June, 11, 2014
Jun 11

The Spurs were amazing in the first half of Game 3.
The San Antonio Spurs had one of those once in a lifetime nights shooting the basketball on their way to a Game 3 win in the NBA Finals.

The Spurs made 19 of their first 21 and 25 of their first 33 shots from the field, giving them a lead large enough to withstand the Heat’s repeated comeback attempts. Their 76 percent shooting in the first half set a Finals record for field-goal percentage in any half.

The Spurs lead the series 2-1 and have won consecutive road games for the first time this postseason.

The Heat had their franchise-record 11-game home playoff win streak snapped. This was their first home playoff loss since Game 1 of the 2013 NBA Finals. The first three wins in the streak had been Games 2, 6 and 7 in last year’s Finals against the Spurs.

Offensive Key: Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard scored a career-high 29 points for the Spurs on 10 of 13 shooting from the field.

Leonard had only three first-quarter points in the first two games of this series, but had 16 in Game 3.

Leonard and Danny Green led the driving attack for the Spurs. The duo combined to shoot 7-of-7 with 14 points on 14 drives in Game 3. In the first two games the duo combined for 1-of-4 shooting with 4 points on 12 drives.

The Elias Sports Bureau noted that the only players to score more points in a Finals game than Kawhi Leonard's 29 at the age of 22 or younger are Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Alvan Adams, and Tommy Heinsohn.
Defensive Key: Containing Bosh
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade each scored 22 points for the Heat, but Chris Bosh was held to only nine points.

Bosh had 39 touches of the basketball on the offensive end in Game 1 and 40 in Game 2, but was held to only 12 in 34 minutes in Game 3.

James had his streak of six straight 25-point NBA Finals games come to an end. His seven turnovers were an NBA Finals career high.

James did join Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Kobe Bryant as the only players in NBA history to rank in the top 10 in postseason points & assists.

The Spurs were fortunate in one regard
The Heat shot 52 percent from the field. Entering the night, Miami was 146-14 in the Big 3 Era (since 2010-11) when shooting 50 percent or better in any game, including 85-7 at home.

Looking Ahead
The Heat are 2-0 in postseason series when trailing 2-1 in the James-Wade-Bosh era. The Spurs are 15-3 in best-of-7 series when leading 2-1 in the Gregg Popovich era. One of those losses was in last year’s Finals.

The Game 3 winner of a tied NBA Finals series goes on to win the series 83 percent of the time (30-6). Last year, however, the Spurs and Heat were tied 1-1 - San Antonio won Game 3 but went on to lose the series.

But also of note from Elias: When the home team lost Game 3 of an NBA Finals that was tied 1-1, it won the title only 10 percent of the time (2 of 20).

Bosh hot from three-point range

June, 10, 2014
Jun 10
The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs have combined to make 45 three-point field goals in this series (25 by San Antonio, 20 by Miami).

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the most three-pointers made through the first two games of an NBA Finals series. The previous best came in 1995 when Houston Rockets and Orlando Magic combined for 38.

Of all the hot shooters in this series, Chris Bosh has been the most on fire from behind the arc.

Chris Bosh
Bosh from downtown
Chris Bosh is averaging 18.0 points on 59.1 percent shooting this series and has connected on 4-of-6 shots from downtown – including a clutch three-pointer with 1:17 remaining in Game 2 to put the Heat up for good, 95-93.

After averaging just 13.2 points over his first 12 games this postseason, Bosh is putting up 21.2 points over his last five.

Bosh leads the Heat in three-point makes this postseason with 29, one more than Ray Allen. He’s shooting 43.3 percent from beyond the arc and a little over a third of his shots have come from three-point range this postseason (67-200).

Take a look at how his three-point game has evolved over the years.

Back in the 2011 playoffs, Bosh attempted 291 shots – and only four were of the three-point variety.

Bosh in clutch time
This postseason Chris Bosh is tied for the fourth most three-point field goals attempted in clutch time situations (last five minutes of the fourth Quarter or overtime with the score within five points) with nine. He is 3-for-9 from three-point range and 4-for-11 overall from the field in those games.

During the regular season, Bosh had the fourth highest three-point field goal percentage in clutch time situations throughout the NBA (among players with a minimum of 20 three-point field goal attempts). He shot 16-for-31, making 51.6 percent of those threes.

Game 3 notes
• The Spurs are 9-5 in Game 3s of a best-of-7 series when the series is tied 1-1 in the Gregg Popovich era.

• The Heat are 3-0 in Game 3s at home when the series is tied 1-1 in the James-Wade—Bosh era (since 2011 playoffs). Miami has gone on to win each of the last six series in which they were tied 1-1. The last time they lost a series in which they were tied 1-1 was in the 2011 NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks.

• Should Miami win Game 3 – the Heat have won each of the last six series in which they led 2-1. Their last such series loss was the 2011 NBA Finals.

• Should Miami lose Game 3 – the Heat have a 2-0 series record when trailing 2-1 in the James-Wade-Bosh era. Miami fell behind 2-1 against Indiana in the 2012 Conference Semifinals and then proceeded to win the next 3 games to close out the series. The Heat also fell behind 2-1 in the 2013 NBA Finals against the Spurs, but rallied back to win in 7.

Guarding LeBron is Spurs' top priority

June, 5, 2014
Jun 5

AP Photo/Kevin C. CoxWhat can the Spurs learn from guarding LeBron in last year's NBA Finals?

Do the San Antonio Spurs NBA Finals hopes hinge on simply stopping LeBron James?

The stats from last year’s NBA Finals would suggest so. But how should the Spurs handle controlling James and what can be learned from last year’s NBA Finals, when the Spurs gave James plenty of cushion on the perimeter?

Over or under the screen?
Because of James’ decision making, going over or under the screen is almost a moot point.

When James was the pick-and-roll ball handler last NBA Finals, the Spurs went over the screen 58 percent of the time and under the screen 42 percent of the time. The Heat were almost equally efficient in either scenario.

When the Spurs went under a James pick-and-roll, James shot more but as a team the Heat went 10-of-20 with 1.08 points per play.

When the Spurs went over a James pick-and-roll, James passed more but as a team the Heat went 11-of-23 with 1.03 points per play.

Giving too big of a cushion
The Spurs were able to limit damage on James' drives last NBA Finals, holding him to 40 percent shooting on those plays. To put that into perspective, James shot 64 percent on drives this regular season and is shooting 69 percent this postseason, both according to Player Tracking Data.

But giving James spaces to shoot didn’t work out as well as the Spurs may have planned, as he made 50 percent of his uncontested jumpers.

Who should guard LeBron?James’ three most common defenders in the half-court offense last NBA Finals were Kawhi Leonard (44 percent of plays), Boris Diaw and Danny Green (15 percent each).

James had his best success against Leonard, who may be the closest physically to James. Against the smaller Danny Green and thicker Boris Diaw, James struggled.

James vs. Green
Green’s quickness helped keep James away from the basket. James was able to drive on Green only four times in the series, and had a higher rate of taking jump shots off the dribble against Green than anyone else, going 2-of-9 on those attempts. James was also unable to get to the line against Green, drawing only two shooting fouls against him.

James vs. Diaw
James went 3-of-21 when guarded by Diaw last postseason and averaged 0.40 points per play (he averaged nearly 1.0 point per play against everyone else). Diaw’s size and speed created major problems for James. James was 1-of-6 posting up Diaw, 1-of-5 when driving on him and 1-of-10 when guarded by him outside 10 feet.

James vs. Leonard
James didn’t shoot well on drives against Leonard (2-of-7 FG), but found other ways to score.

James answered the inability to drive by posting up more, shooting 6-of-11 when posting up Leonard (2-of-14 versus all other Spurs).

When James had to shoot over Leonard, he started to do so with a quicker release. Only five of his 14 jump shots against Leonard in Games 1-3 were uncontested last Finals, but in the final four games of the series, 13 of his 22 jumpers against him were uncontested. James shot 50 percent overall (41.7 percent from the 3-point line) on uncontested jumpers against the Spurs last Finals.

Spurs advance to NBA Finals

June, 1, 2014
Jun 1

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)Gregg Popovich (left) and Tim Duncan (right) advanced to the NBA Finals for the sixth time.
Game 6 was different than any other contest in the 2014 Western Conference Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder. After the first five games were decided by an average margin of 20.4 points per game, Game 6 was decided in overtime. After 23 lead changes and ties over the first five games, Game 6 featured 31 lead changes and ties. And that was just the beginning.

Spurs share the ball well, Thunder do not
The Spurs won the game by sharing the basketball, while the Thunder got 95 percent of their points from four players: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson and Serge Ibaka. Only five players scored for the Thunder in Game 6, and those players attempted 78 of the team's 82 field goals. All 11 players who logged time for the Spurs in Game 6 shot the ball, and all but one scored.

San Antonio scored 51 bench points compared to just 5 for Oklahoma City, with the 46-point bench differential setting the mark for the largest in any game this season (regular season and playoffs).

A breakdown of each team’s half-court offense illustrates the offensive contrast. The Spurs had 288 passes on 105 half-court plays, while the Thunder had 137 on 100 half-court plays. One one hand, the 1.4 passes per play for the Thunder in Game 6 was their lowest of the series. On the other hand, the 2.7 passes per play for the Spurs was just above their average (2.5). Oklahoma City had 62 plays with one or fewer passes, while San Antonio had 31.

Thunder duo still dynamic
Lost in the shadow of defeat was a tremendous scoring effort from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Both scored at least 30 points in the same game for the eighth time in their postseason careers. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that surpasses Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal for the second-most such games by a pair of teammates in NBA playoff history.

Westbrook had another stellar game in his own right. For the second time this postseason, Westbrook posted at least 30 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals in the same game, joining Michael Jordan as the only players with multiple 30-5-5-5 games in a single postseason. Jordan did so twice, in both 1989 (4) and 1990 (3).

Spurs reach NBA Finals
For the first time in franchise history, the Spurs will make back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals. This marks the sixth NBA Finals appearance in franchise history, all of which have come in the Tim Duncan-Gregg Popovich era.

Lurking in the NBA Finals are familiar foes in the Miami Heat, who defeated the Spurs in the 2013 NBA Finals in seven games. This marks the first NBA Finals rematch since the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz met in consecutive Finals in 1997 and 1998.

San Antonio displayed great resilience, becoming the first team since 1988-89 Pistons to make it back to the NBA Finals after losing a Game 7 in the Finals the prior year. Spurs fans are hoping they emulate the success of the Bad Boys, as the Pistons won the 1989 Finals after suffering that Game 7 defeat in 1988.

Top stats to know: Spurs 117, Thunder 89

May, 30, 2014
May 30

Soobum Im/USA TODAY SportsDuncan notched his 154th postseason double-double. Only Magic Johnson (157) has more.
The San Antonio Spurs rolled again at home to earn a chance to close out the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6 on the road. The Spurs returned home to find their shooting stroke, with or without Serge Ibaka on the floor.

Tim Duncan and the Spurs controlled the interior from the start. Duncan recorded his 98th playoff game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. The next closest active player is Dirk Nowitzki with 64.

Spurs figure out Ibaka

The Spurs bounced back with a strong shooting performance. San Antonio shot 59 percent with Serge Ibaka on the floor in Game 5 after being held to 40 percent with Ibaka on the floor in Games 3-4.

The biggest difference was Tim Duncan. Duncan scored 14 points while Ibaka was on the court in Game 5. Duncan was limited to 13 points when Ibaka played in Games 3-4.

The Spurs shot 71.4 percent in the paint Thursday, their best in a game this postseason. San Antonio shot a postseason-low 45.0 percent in the paint in Game 4.

San Antonio found success in the paint after Gregg Popovich switched Tiago Splitter out of the starting lineup ahead of Game 5. Tim Duncan and Splitter did not play a single second on the court together in Game 5 after playing 54 minutes together in Games 1-4.

Jump shots fall back at home

After shooting 52 percent on uncontested jump shots in Games 1-2, the Spurs struggled to find their stroke on the road, shooting 37 percent in Oklahoma City.

San Antonio returned home and the shots started to fall again. The Spurs made 56 percent of open jumpers in Game 5, their highest mark since Game 1.

Danny Green rediscovered his three-point stroke at home. Green has made at least four three pointers in each home game this series, but combined to make only three in San Antonio's two road losses.

This season, the Spurs are 18-0 when Green makes at least four three pointers in a game.

Thunder, Westbrook run dry in San Antonio

After Russell Westbrook scored half of his 40 points in Game 4 on drives to the basket, the Spurs limited Westbrook to seven points on four drives in Game 5. Westbrook's four drives are his fewest in a game since Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

The Thunder were held to a post-season low four transition points in Game 5. Oklahoma City scored 29 points in transition in Game 4, its second-most this postseason.

Top stats to know: Thunder 105, Spurs 92

May, 28, 2014
May 28
The Oklahoma City Thunder got even with the San Antonio Spurs with their second straight easy win, tying the Western Conference finals, 2-2.

Once again, this was a vastly different game than the ones played in San Antonio, as the Thunder dominated throughout.

Westbrook’s amazing game
Russell Westbrook finished with 40 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and five steals. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that he’s the second player to have a 40-point, 10-assist, five-steal game in postseason play, the first since Michael Jordan in 1989.

This was Westbrook's third 30-point, 10-assist game this postseason. Elias notes that only three players have had more such games in a single postseason -- Jordan with seven in 1989, Jerry West for the Los Angeles Lakers with six in 1970 and Oscar Robertson with five for the 1963 Cincinnati Royals.

Westbrook’s 40 points were one more than the total scored by the Spurs' starting five.

Durant plays Robin to Westbrook’s Batman
Kevin Durant also had a huge game for the Thunder, finishing with 31 points.

Per Elias, Westbrook and Durant each scored 30 points and shot at least 50 percent in a playoff game together for the third time. The only other teammates to do that multiple times in the postseason together over the past 10 years are LeBron James and Dwyane Wade (three times) along with Tony Parker and Tim Duncan (twice)

It's the third time in 71 postseason games together that Durant and Westbrook had no turnovers in the first half. It's the first time they've ever combined for at least 30 points and zero turnovers in the first half of a playoff game.

Difference-maker: transition play
The Thunder outscored the Spurs 29-6 in transition and 21-0 in fast-break points.

The Thunder had 24 transition points before the Spurs had any.

OKC made 11 of its 18 transition shots. San Antonio only attempted three such shots in the game, making two.

Entering the game, the Spurs and Thunder had each scored 37 points in transition, with the Thunder logging just two more plays in those situations.

Popovich can’t win in Oklahoma City
The Spurs have lost nine straight games to the Thunder in Oklahoma City, including the regular season and playoffs. That is the longest road losing streak for the Spurs against any team under Gregg Popovich.

Oddity of the night
Manu Ginobili scored five points for the Spurs. He now has 2,674 career playoff points, surpassing NBA legend Bill Russell for the most playoff points by a left-handed player.

Former Spurs star David Robinson ranks third with 2,221.

Looking ahead
The Game 5 winner of a tied best-of-seven series goes on to win the series 82 percent of the time.

Top stats to know: Spurs 112, Thunder 77

May, 22, 2014
May 22
Danny Green was lights-out from 3-point range again.
The San Antonio Spurs made it look easy ... again.

The Spurs routed the Oklahoma City Thunder 112-77 in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.

It was the third-largest playoff win in Spurs history and tied for the worst playoff loss for the Thunder.

The Spurs improved to 8-1 at home this postseason, with seven straight home wins.

The Spurs have outscored the Thunder by 52 points through two games, the most a team has ever outscored its opponent in the first two games of a conference finals.

Difference-Maker: Danny Green
Danny Green tied his playoff career high with seven 3-pointers (he had seven in Game 3 of last season’s NBA Finals against the Heat).

Green is now 15 for 21 on 3-point attempts in the last three games, with at least four made 3-pointers in each game.

The Spurs are 17-0 this season (combining regular season and postseason) when Green makes at least four 3-pointers in a game.

Spurs dominate the paint
The Spurs scored 54 points in the paint in Game 2 after scoring 66 paint points in Game 1. This is the first time this postseason they've scored at least 50 points in the paint in consecutive games.

San Antonio has scored 46 more points in the paint than the Thunder in the first two games of the series.

Durant and Westbrook make a minimal impact
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined to shoot 13 for 40 for the Thunder in Game 2.

Durant has had a hard time getting easy looks this series.

In fact, 64 of his 84 offensive touches against the Spurs have originated above the free-throw line. This has led to a near four-foot increase in average shot distance this series compared to the first two rounds of the playoffs.

The Thunder were outscored by 34 points with Westbrook on the floor, giving him his worst plus-minus in any game in his career.

Elias Sports Bureau Stat of the Night
The Spurs now have the winningest trio in NBA postseason history. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have played in 111 postseason wins together, one more than Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper.

Looking Ahead
The Spurs are 18-2 in best-of-7 series when leading 2-0 in the Gregg Popovich era. Their only series losses came in the 2004 conference semifinals versus the Lakers and 2012 conference finals versus the Thunder.

Teams that take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-7 series with double-digit wins in each game go on to win the series 95 percent of the time (77-4).

Keys to victory: Spurs 122, Thunder 105

May, 20, 2014
May 20
The San Antonio Spurs showed the Oklahoma City Thunder that the 2014 Western Conference finals won’t resemble the way things went during the regular season.

The Spurs pulled away late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter to win Game 1 of the series handily.

The Spurs have now won 10 straight Game 1s in postseason play (tied for the third-longest streak in NBA history), one shy of the record, last done by the Chicago Bulls from 1996 to 1998.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that the Spurs “Big 3” of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili has now won 110 playoff games, tying Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper for the most such wins by a trio in NBA history.

The Thunder went 4-0 against the Spurs in the regular season but could not finish this game off in a good way.

Difference-Maker: Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan scored 21 of his 27 points in the first half, making all seven of his shots in the paint in that time.

Sixteen of Duncan’s 27 points came when he was cutting to the basket. Five different players had an assist on Duncan’s baskets off cuts.

The Spurs outscored the Thunder 66-32 in the paint and shot 58 percent from the field overall (their best shooting game this postseason). The Thunder allowed 41.5 paint points per game against the Spurs in the regular season.

San Antonio also thrived when it drove to the basket, with no Serge Ibaka there to protect the rim for the Thunder. The chart on the right shows how well the Spurs fared.

Defensive specialist: Danny Green
Danny Green proved to be a shutdown defender for the San Antonio Spurs.

The Thunder missed 14 of 16 shots from the field and committed three turnovers in situations in which Green was the primary defender. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant were a combined 2-for-9 when guarded by Green.

Green had held opponents to 42 percent shooting from the field in the first two rounds.

The Spurs outscored the Thunder by 30 points in Green’s 27 minutes on the floor.

Looking Ahead
The Spurs are 22-4 in best-of-7 series when winning Game 1 with Gregg Popovich as their head coach.

The Thunder are 3-2 all time when losing Game 1 of a playoff series since moving to Oklahoma City. Notably, they lost Game 1 of the 2012 Western Conference finals in San Antonio and recovered to win the series in six games.

Top stats to know: Thunder at Spurs

May, 19, 2014
May 19

Getty ImagesTim Duncan and Kevin Durant are four wins away from advancing to the NBA Finals.
The Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs begin their Western Conference Finals series tonight, the second time in the last three seasons that they have met in this round.

Back in 2012, the Thunder defeated the Spurs in six games in the Conference Finals, winning the final four games after losing the first two. What are the key storylines heading into this year's matchup?

Impact of Ibaka’s injury
Serge Ibaka will miss the rest of the playoffs with a calf injury, leaving the Thunder with a big hole in the middle.

How much will Ibaka’s absence hurt the Thunder against the Spurs?

The Thunder are eight points better per 48 minutes this postseason with Serge Ibaka on the court compared to when Ibaka has been on the bench.

If there's a silver lining to Ibaka getting injured, it's that the team stumbled upon the pairing of Nick Collison and Steven Adams.

The two played on the floor together for 16 minutes in Game 6 and the Thunder outscored the Clippers by 16 when Collison and Adams shared the floor. Prior to Game 6, Collison and Adams had played on the floor together for just 33 minutes this postseason.

With or without Ibaka, the Spurs were likely going to put the Thunder's interior defense to the test. According to Player Tracking Data, the Spurs have been one of the best teams getting the ball inside during the playoffs.

The Spurs are averaging 28.1 drives per game this postseason, third-most in the NBA. The Spurs are also averaging 19.2 "close" touches (within 12 feet of basket) per game this postseason, second-most in the NBA.

San Antonio was one of the most efficient teams around the basket during the regular season, shooting 58.1 percent inside the paint, which ranked third in the NBA. But no team slowed them down better than the Thunder. With Serge Ibaka on court, the Spurs shot just 47.1 percent inside the paint.

Thunder regular season sweep
The Thunder took all four meetings against the Spurs in the regular season, winning by an average of nearly 10 points per game.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the fourth instance in NBA history where one team was 4-0 or better versus another team in the regular season and then met in the Conference Finals.

Each of the three previous times, the team that swept the regular season won the playoff series as well.

Importance of Game 1
If history is any indicator, the Thunder could be in trouble tonight.

They have lost 10 straight Game 1s on the road, with their last such win coming in the 1992 Western Conference First Round at Golden State. The Spurs have won nine straight Game 1s, the fifth longest streak in NBA history, according to Elias.

The Spurs are 22-4 in best-of-7 series when winning Game 1 in the Gregg Popovich era (6-7 when they don’t); the Thunder have a 5-2 series record when winning Game 1 since moving to OKC (3-2 when they don’t).

Durant carries Thunder to Western Finals

May, 16, 2014
May 16

Richard Mackson/USA TODAY SportsKevin Durant started slow, but came alive to record his 9th 30-point game of this postseason.

Kevin Durant did it again. The NBA's 2013-14 MVP stepped up when his team needed its go-to guy. Durant netted his ninth 30-point game of the postseason. No other player has more than four this postseason.

With Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder advancing to the Western Conference Finals, here's how Durant (and the Thunder) got there and what to expect against the San Antonio Spurs.

Joins some exclusive lists
With his 39 points Thursday night, Durant joined a nice list. Durant trails only Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson for the most points per game averaged in potential series-clinching games.

Another impressive list? The last five players to record a 35-15-5 playoff game:

Durant (twice), LeBron James (twice) and Carmelo Anthony. Durant finished Game 6 with 39 points, 16 rebounds and five assists.

And one more. Since 1990, only three players have posted 35-15-5 in series-clinching wins. Durant, Hakeem Olajuwon (twice) and Michael Jordan.

Overcomes slow start
Durant was held to only three points on 1 of 7 shooting in the first quarter. In the final three quarters, Durant dropped 36 points on 11 of 16 shooting.

Durant found his success by figuring out Matt Barnes. Barnes shut down Durant in Game 5 (Durant shot 2 of 14 against Barnes, including 0 of 11 on jump shots). And Barnes was on his way to doing it again.

In the first quarter, Durant was defended by Barnes the entire time, extending his shooting slump to 3 of 21 in the last five quarters against the Clipper stopper. But in the final three quarters, Durant scored 19 points against Barnes (7 of 10 shooting).

On to San Antonio
Durant and the Thunder move on to the Western Conference Finals to face the San Antonio Spurs.

Durant and his teammates should be up to the challenge.

The Spurs "held" Durant to 26.3 points per game (his fewest against any opponent he faced more than twice) in their four meetings during the regular season.

However, the Thunder swept all four meetings against the Spurs, winning all four by at least six points.