But the Golden State Warriors, whom they'll meet in this next series, could provide the largest burden yet.
D'Antoni said he expects the Rockets to have the best offense in National Basketball Association history next season, saying they can "add layers" to the system to help Harden.
As for motivation? Just a hunch here, but they probably lead the league in that category, too. "It is tough, especially the way we lost at home". He'll talk to the coaching staff.
Even with Leonard in the fold, the Spurs are 10-point underdogs entering Sunday's Game 1, per OddsShark. But this series, unlike their previous playoff matchup, becomes the biggest test to see which style of play (and which team's larger strategy) is superior.
The story took a bit of a rewrite recently with Brown stepping in for the ailing Kerr, though his longtime friend/current boss attended practice Saturday for the first time since undergoing a spinal cord leakage procedure May 5 at Duke University. But you know, they know each other well.
A more detailed medical update was unavailable.
"Game five, people are down on him at the end of the game, well, we're down 10 without James", he said. The more likely scenario would seem to be series-by-series.
The Warriors have been dominant in the playoffs, sweeping both the Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz. The following year, San Antonio was ousted by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Conference Semifinals. Would he wait for the Finals or remain in the background, involved in the preparation but cautious about where to tread?
"It's a totally different animal", the former Warriors assistant coach said. Outwardly, he is cool and calm, and increasingly comfortable in the environment.
They also have an owner who wants to win now and a GM always willing to make just about any move to make it happen.
"Mike who? I don't know a Mike Brown", Popovich joked.
Other than that, the only thing they changed was allowing the Rockets to use more of the paint. "Mikey's done a great job".
Brown, who has coached the Lakers and twice coached the Cavaliers, and a year ago was in the midst of an extended sabbatical, approaches the current job like a temp employee; he has no intention of messing with a handsome blueprint.
Cleveland is 8-0 straight-up and 4-2-2 ATS, winning by an average of 9.6 points with a 6-2 over-under record.
The size issue has lingered for Golden State since last year's Finals, and there are still moments where the reworked lineup with Kevin Durant is less effective than the one without him (that's not a knock on KD, but a remark on introducing new chemistry to a pre-existing situation). A rematch with the Cavs would be wrapping on a gift, an opportunity to expunge the Oracle Arena odor from that seventh game. Daryl Morey asked his 27-year-old franchise centerpiece about the flu bug that was making it hard to breathe. Both are historically full of surprises. In Game 6, they handed the Rockets a 114-75 loss, leaving the Rockets to 39 points unanswered for, according to FOX Sports With their Game 6 win, the Spurs took the series 4-2, and successfully bought a ticket to the conference finals. They grabbed wins on each franchise's home court, with the Warriors taking the final matchup in late March, as each contest saw the victor post a double-digit margin of victory. "But at the same time, that's not going to stop me from being aggressive and trying to make plays, not just for myself but for my teammates as well". That said, there's no true replacement for the experience and leadership Parker provides alongside Coach Pop.
"He's had a historic season, and we can get that better", D'Antoni said. That sort of really began the era of the Warriors we know today.