Perennial contending Spurs content outside spotlight

Fri Apr 15, 2016 10:39am EDT
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By Jahmal Corner

(Reuters) - While the NBA season has been dominated by the record-setting Golden State Warriors and Kobe Bryant's retirement tour, the San Antonio Spurs have quietly played in the background plotting to steal the final headlines.

Like their understated superstar, Kawhi Leonard, the perennial championship-contending Spurs remain silent but deadly heading into their 19th consecutive postseason.

The Spurs (67-15) went 40-1 at home in the regular season to match the NBA record set by the 1985-86 Boston Celtics. In any other season the achievement would be front and center but the Warriors (73-9) have relegated the Spurs to second billing and the Western Conference's second seed.

But away from the spotlight is a place where the small market Spurs are quite comfortable.

"We didn't care one way or the other (about the home mark)," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich told reporters.

The team's reticent coach celebrates only NBA championship banners – Popovich has led San Antonio to five – and the battle-tested Spurs share his big picture outlook.

"Going into the playoffs (the home wins) doesn't mean nothing," said Leonard, who was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2014 NBA Finals. "Everyone knows your game plan and how you play at home. (You play to) get a position in the playoffs and win a championship."

The team's title hopes have been shifted from the veteran trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to the broad shoulders of Leonard, 24, in recent years. Leonard, who last year was named the league's best defensive player, has evolved into the team's go-to scorer.   Continued...

Apr 12, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) looks to pass the ball as he is defended by Oklahoma City Thunder shooting guard Anthony Morrow (2) and power forward Nick Collison (4) during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports