Because the Spurs had just escaped with their ninth consecutive victory Wednesday night in Boston, a young reporter demanded that team captain Tim Duncan reveal how important it would be to his legacy to win one more NBA championship.

"It was important to get the first four," Duncan said, more than a little agitated.

Seventeen days shy of his 36th birthday, Duncan understands the Spurs' recent surge to the best record in the Western Conference has given rise, yet again, to the notion this season represents his last best chance at a fifth NBA title.

He has not forgotten the Spurs had the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs last April and lost to the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round.