By Brad Friedman

It's scary when you think about it.

The Spurs won a Western Conference-best 63 games this season, yet San Antonio players commented that "they hadn't played that well."


If that's not playing well, then opponents should hope the Spurs don't play to the standards they perceive as "playing well."

San Antonio -- NBA Finals winners in 1999, 2003 and 2005 -- has become the NBA's most efficient franchise. Built around star Tim Duncan, it has an incredible set of complementary players. They won't overwhelm you, but the Spurs will come away with the win when the buzzer sounds.

"San Antonio's a team that, when everybody plays thinks 'Well, we should have beat them,'" said former NBA head coach Kevin Loughery. "They play such a grind-out game. They don't allow second shots. Their team defense is outstanding. But also as individual defenders, they are outstanding. (Tony) Parker's good, (Manu) Ginobili's good, (Bruce) Bowen's all-league, Duncan's all-league. They control the clock. They're deep on the bench."
The Spurs are hoping to be celebrating another championship in June.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

If the Spurs have an Achilles' Heel, it's their free throw shooting.

Other than steals, free throw shooting is the only major statistical category that they trailed their opponents in this season. Duncan (.629) routinely gets to the line, especially in crucial fourth quarter situations, but can hurt his team with his inconsistency.

The other item to monitor with Duncan is his health. Despite playing in 80 games, many observers including Loughery say he didn’t appear to be 100 percent this season, and not coincidentally, Duncan averaged career lows in points (18.6), rebounds (11.0 rpg), blocks (2.03) and field goal percentage (.484).

San Antonio's a terrific team unit, but make no mistake about it, if Duncan's health issues flare up in the postseason, achieving a championship repeat becomes that much more difficult.

With little talent at the 4 and 5 positions outside of Duncan, the Spurs tried to provide him with relief last offseason. However, Argentine 31-year-old rookie Fabricio Oberto, considered the best center in Euroleague at the time, managed averages of just 1.8 points and 2.1 rebounds this season, and once again the weight of the frontcourt responsibilities fell directly on Duncan's shoulders.

Another health situation to keep on eye on is that of guard Manu Ginobili, who sat out 17 regular season games.

This is a team that is dangerous, and the favorite to emerge out of the West, but even San Antonio has its weaknesses. Perhaps that's why -- in a season in which they won 63 games -- the Spurs seem to understand and acknowledge they aren't invincible.

That bodes well for fans in San Antonio. When it comes to repeating championships, not resting on one's laurels is exactly the attitude necessary for achieving another River Walk celebration.