Spurs playoff history: Tim Duncan, San Antonio still going strong after 16 years


Tim Duncan and the Spurs bring their consistent play into the playoffs, which serves as a great snapshot of what the organization has been since drafting Duncan: consistency, dominance, and high expectations for 16 seasons.

The San Antonio Spurs are consistency captured in a bottle and transformed into a basketball team. The Spurs have made the playoffs for the 16th straight time, and every year they serve as a reminder that they just do things right in their organization. Meticulous drafting, understated trades, and complete support of their basketball operations from the top to the bottom. Tim Duncan stands as a pillar beside Gregg Popovich, and the Spurs keep on rolling.

Since Duncan was drafted by San Antonio in the 1997 NBA Draft they have not missed a single playoff berth. The big fundamental is the big consistent playoff guardian, while Popovich has only missed the playoffs in his first season as the Spurs' head coach.

During that stretch the Spurs have found the ultimate success of lifting the Larry O' Brien trophy up into the air four times. The last time they were crowned as NBA champions, though, was back in 2007 where they swept away a young LeBron James who was still with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now, LeBron will be defending the championship with the Miami Heat, but things remain largely unchanged with the Spurs. Sure, Bruce Bowen isn't out their karate kicking other players, but the black and silver continue trucking along. Eviscerating unsuspecting defenses with crisp execution and playing defense as a team.

They came close to reaching the NBA Finals last season but fell short in the Western Conference Finals to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Their collapse in the Western Conference Finals was stunning, as they had previously won 20 straight games going back to the regular season. They swept the first two rounds of the playoffs (Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Clippers) and were up 2-0 on the Thunder.

Then, Oklahoma City flipped the script and took four straight against the Spurs, ending their dominant run and ending their playoff hopes. For their last five playoff runs the Spurs have fallen short of their goal yet have continued with their core of players and values. Coach Pop, Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili keep on fighting the good fight, it's just a matter of them cashing in. With the West being as competitive as ever, the Spurs will have a

San Antonio once again sat at the top of the Western Conference throughout a regular season and they'll look to capitalize on their extensive experience, strong system, and star-trio to push them beyond the Western Conference bracket for the first time in six seasons. Coincidentally, that trio could look very different going forward, as Ginobili will be a free agent once their playoff run concludes.

The Spurs have stuck to the script, keeping their roster tight over the last few seasons, and may need their patience to come through sooner than later. At age 36 Duncan continues to quietly fight off the scythe of Father Time. In very Spurs-like fashion Duncan put together one of the best seasons he's played over the last seven years, continuing on his path of silent brilliance.

With another season under the belt of their young swingmen in Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard the Spurs will lean on them to step up, especially with the injury issues that have plagued Ginobili through the season.

That's what makes the Spurs great though -- with such a refined and bought-into system and coaching staff, plugging players in isn't the problem. Finishing the job, however, has eluded the Spurs, and is becoming a taller task every season as the Western Conference continues to bud with talent from top to bottom.

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