In the immediate aftermath of the San Antonio Spurs' stunning Game 6 loss in Oklahoma City, much of the focus surrounded the futures and legacies of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, not to mention a mouth-watering Western Conference final between the Thunder and Warriors.
Lost in that hoopla was the fact that one of the most dominant teams the NBA has ever seen - a 67-win juggernaut that won its first five playoff games by an average of 24 points - was sent packing in mid-May.
These Spurs appeared destined for immortality. Instead, they'll be remembered as one of the great postseason disappointments in league history.
Of the 12 teams to win at least 67 games in a season, the 2016 Spurs join the 2007 Mavericks as the only two to be eliminated before the conference finals.
|1972-73||Celtics||68-14||Lost East finals|
|2006-07||Mavericks||67-15||Lost West quarterfinals|
|2015-16||Spurs||67-15||Lost West semifinals|
Perhaps the most impressive figure from San Antonio's prolific campaign was their point differential, often a more accurate predictor of success than raw wins. The Spurs were on pace to post the best one yet for much of the season, and their final mark of plus-10.63 settled in as the seventh-best all time.
That makes the Spurs the first team to post an average point differential of at least plus-10 without advancing to the conference finals. In fact, entering this season, the only other team to post a double-digit average point differential and fail to win a championship was the 1971-72 Milwaukee Bucks - and that's because they ran into another team on the list in the West final.
|1971-72||Bucks||+11.16||Lost West finals|
|2015-16||Spurs||+10.63||Lost West semifinals|
The 2015-16 Spurs played beautiful, cohesive ball on the offensive end, defended at one of the best rates of any team in recent memory, and started the season with 65 wins in 77 games, all without dropping two straight at any point.
But with great power comes both great responsibility and great expectations, which the Spurs ultimately failed to live up to.
They finished the year a pedestrian 8-7 over their final 15 games, including two separate three-game losing streaks. The last of those streaks, at the hands of a Thunder team boasting two generational superstars, rendered an already incredible season historic - for all the wrong reasons.