- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
Editor's note: Here's a glimpse of the good -- and the bad -- that could happen to the 2003-04 San Antonio Spurs.
Best Case Scenario
Three things need to happen for the Spurs to hold off Dallas and Minnesota for the Midwest Division title ... and then negotiate the West's playoff bracket to set up their third championship in a span of six seasons:
1. Rasho Nesterovic is good enough -- on the defensive end -- to finish games. There is little doubt Nesterovic can match (and exceed) the offensive production David Robinson gave the Spurs in his twilight years. There is considerable doubt about Rasho coming close to Robinson -- even the 37-year-old version -- as an at-the-rim deterrent. One thing's for sure, though: San Antonio is very aware that Nesterovic did not respond well in Minnesota to Kevin Garnett's barking, and that's why Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is intent on a positive-reinforcement approach with his new center ... even if that means Pop has to restrain himself. "I'm just going to leave him alone -- I really am," Popovich said. "I'm not going to ride him like I rode Tony (Parker)."
4dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann