And so another round of questions will begin in San Antonio. Are the Spurs too old? Has the Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker trio run its course? Is it time to rebuild?
Hard to believe a franchise that has fashioned the best record in the Western Conference the last two years needs to be broken up, but consecutive playoff disappointments leave many people asking tough questions.
Some of those folks are inside the Spurs organization.
The loss to Memphis in the first round last year was tough, but the blow was somewhat lessened by Ginobili's absence. This setback hurts infinitely worse.
"It is very disappointing," Duncan said. "I thought this was our time to get back to the Finals and push for another championship. That was our singular goal, but obviously it ends here."
The Spurs, healthy and rested, breezed through the first two rounds and the first two games of the West final against the Thunder. The winning streak reached 20 games. Surely, the Drive for Five was on course in San Antonio.
Instead, the title quest ended with four straight losses, culminating in Wednesday night's 107-99 meltdown in Oklahoma City. The Spurs led by 18 in the first half and 15 at halftime. The lead was down to one heading into the fourth quarter.
"We had a bad third quarter instead of the second quarter, it seems," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "We've had bad second quarters, and we just haven't been able to sustain our offense for four quarters, and for us to beat those guys, we needed to score.
"And the third quarter, it was like playing in mud. So that was our downfall as much as anything."
Popovich, though, wasn't about to call the Spurs' season a failure.
"From our end, we had a wonderful season," he said. "Everybody wants to be the last team standing, but in many ways this group may have even overachieved."