These Spurs have the game-changing depth, the new/old blend and the out-of-character mission. Longtime "Pop" observers were stunned during training camp when he publicly acknowledged he thinks about the Game 6 loss in Miami every day, freeing the team to do the same. In the past, Popovich has forgotten about losses sometime during his second glass of postgame wine.
Now, Game 6 is finally in sight, just over the hills that must be climbed against Dallas (Spurs in six), then maybe the Rockets and Thunder. Here they go again: Against the Spurs, Houston and OKC keep making shots with a vengeful arrogance that says, "Go home, old men."
Says ESPN analyst Bruce Bowen, who won three rings with Duncan's Spurs: "It concerns you because the youth on these teams used to have the mindset, 'We don't know if we can beat the Spurs.' Now, they know.
"But it's not about the regular season [for the Spurs]. Against these teams in these playoffs, I think you'll see the Spurs play almost perfect basketball games. Now the only thing that concerns me is the athleticism [of potentially the Rockets and Thunder]."
Now, what concerns me more is what my "First Take" debate partner Stephen A. Smith often warns me about: Picking a team with such public conviction that I set off a Durant or Harden, both of whom have been known to watch our show. But I do believe in these fresh, healthy Spurs and their mission.
Before the season, when I picked them to win the West, everyone chuckled. Now: Spurs in six over Heat. I apologize in advance, America.