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NBA preview: Three things to watch for with the Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs begin defense of their NBA title on Tuesday against Dallas. They’ll get their championship rings during a pre-game ceremony. As the old saying goes, they’re still the champs until someone beats them. Here are three things to watch for this season with the Spurs:

1 Do the Spurs have the hunger it takes to repeat? Often when teams win a championship, the next season becomes more difficult because the hunger isn’t the same, and often the personnel isn’t the same, either. Also, teams tend to bring their best when playing the defending champs, making it more difficult to get a playoff seed.

2 Is this the final curtain call for Tim Duncan? A 14-time All-Star and five-time NBA champion, Duncan is entering his 18th season. The two-time regular season Most Valuable Player and three-time NBA Finals MVP is 38 years old, but doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Duncan played only 29.2 minutes per game last season, and might play even less this year.

3 Is Leonard ready to be The Man? Whether he likes it or not, Kawhi Leonard is set to become the next superstar of the Spurs. He proved that he’s ready for the challenge by winning the MVP of the Finals last season at age 22. Leonard has the defensive and offensive skills to be a regular on the All-Star team. — Dwain Price

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