The Washington Post

Spurs lock up home court in NBA playoffs while no one is looking

Markieff Morris shoots over Jeff Ayres. (Soobum Im / USA Today)

Ever so quietly and efficiently, as they like to do about this time of year, the San Antonio Spurs are asserting themselves.

The first step? Clinching the top seed and home-court advantage throughout the NBA playoffs. The Spurs accomplished that with a victory over Phoenix on Friday night. Gregg Popovich’s tight-lipped group wasn’t saying much about it, but it’s an important step if, say, the Spurs were to get to a Game 7 in the Finals against, say, the Miami Heat.

“It’s always nice to have,” Tony Parker told Spurs Nation. “We’re not going to do everything to get it, but now that we have it, it’s a good thing. We know it doesn’t guarantee anything in the playoffs. You still have to win on the road. We have enough experience on this team to understand that having the best record doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t guarantee you a championship.”

No, but it doesn’t hurt. And the Heat, trying to nail down home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference, are downplaying its significance with great vigor. It’s a little weird, Linda Robertson of the Miami Herald writes.

Strange, how home-court advantage in the NBA playoffs has suddenly become so worthless.

Players and coaches from both teams are taking turns seeing who can shrug most animatedly. The top seed isn’t that critical, and we never really cared about it, even though we pretended to, they’re saying. Playing Game 7 on the road isn’t that bad, they’re saying. We are concerned with health and team chemistry, not some number, even if it happens to be No. 1, they’re saying.

“It’s all about the process,” LeBron James said when asked about the importance of winning the No. 1 seed. He sounded more like Noam Chomsky than the best basketball player in the world, a guy who prides himself on competing night after night through the drudgery of long trips and back-to-backs.

The Spurs are notorious for conserving their energy throughout the season — even while winning 19 games in a row.  “Records and strings, they don’t mean anything,” the Spurs coach said when the streak ended 10 days ago. “What we care about each game is how well we play. If that’s your goal and focus, usually that will bring more wins than losses considering everything else to be equal. Strings, records, and all of that don’t really mean anything very much.”

With the Heat seeking a third straight title, which would mean another looooooong season, maybe it’s time for a little of that Spurs philosophy — if it isn’t too late. James has asked to sit out Monday night’s game against the Washington Wizards.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.



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Cindy Boren · April 14, 2014