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Power Rankings Week 17: Hope springs eternal in San Antonio

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The Spurs are just 2-3 on the Rodeo Road Trip after coming out of the All-Star break with two straight losses. Is anyone close to counting them out in their push to repeat as champs?

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

After matching the Spurs' 0-2 record with my own (slightly less important) conjectural airballs, I went back to the last couple of previews to see how much of my predictions was driven by logic and how much was pure, Jay Gatsby-esque optimism -- viewing matchups through the rose-tinted goggles of (literally) yesteryear.

Obviously this is a very different league from last year, but are these Spurs still the same ones that won it all? Or are fans such as myself simply boats beating on against the current, borne back ceaselessly into a past we can't repeat?

The answer seems to elude many -- including the writers below, who aren't going to let Steph Curry showing up Tony Parker on a cold, February night lead them to any drastic conclusions.

Of the two losses, the Clippers one is the easier to live with. San Antonio hung tough amid open misses, some questionable officiating (especially early on), and one of Kawhi's worst offensive games. Between his shooting from the field and DeAndre Jordan's from the stripe, it's somewhat remarkable both teams eclipsed 115 points.

The two main fears I had coming out of last week revolved around the defense, which looked exposed on nearly every drive, and Tony Parker, whose offensive production is one of the biggest corollaries with the win-loss record. His numbers across the board (save his near-50% shooting from three) are some of the lowest of his career, and the Spurs attack will continue to rely singularly on him being the tip of the spear if a repeat is to be considered, for better or worse.

Those were my two main concerns---but now Marc Spears slipped the vision of Kendrick Perkins on the Spurs into my head, and now I know real fear.

San Antonio's got Utah, Portland, Sacramento and, finally, Phoenix to go through to finish up this year's annual roadshow. The past suggests they'll take at least three of those four and begin to pick up some momentum. And the past is something we'll keep hoping they repeat.

Marc Stein, from ESPN, (Spurs rank: 6. Last week's rank: 4)

Four games left on the Rodeo Road Trip for the Spurs, who are off to an uncharacteristic 2-3 start and have never posted a losing record on this excursion since they started taking these trips in 2003. Another pressing source of curiosity: How much longer before Tony Parker is back to the real TP?

Drew Garrison, from SB Nation NBA, (Spurs rank: 10. Last week's rank: 9)

San Antonio hasn't made a big run yet, instead lurking around the bottom of the West playoff picture. That's dangerous for everyone involved. The Spurs are still the Spurs, which means those top teams -- currently the Grizzlies and Warriors -- might have a nightmare first round. There's only a very slim chance San Antonio misses the playoffs, though, so don't stress out over these losses. It's all fun and games until it's a seven-game series.

Marc J. Spears, from Yahoo Sports, (Spurs rank: 12. Last week's rank: 7)

The Spurs could have used Texas native Kendrick Perkins because they are weak at center when Tim Duncan is at power forward.

USA Today, (Spurs rank: 10. Last week's rank: 8)

A repeat seems to hinge on how far Tony Parker, still their best offensive player, can take them.

John Schuhmann, from NBA.com, (Spurs rank: 10. Last week's rank: 9)

Kawhi Leonard shot 1-for-11 against the Clippers on Thursday, Tony Parker shot 0-for-4 against the Warriors on Friday, and the Spurs' defense didn't hold up in either game. It still ranks in the top 10 overall, but only the Mavs' defense has been worse in games played between West playoff teams, in which San Antonio has dropped to 7-10 (3-6 on the road).

Matt Moore, from CBS Sports, (Spurs rank: 12. Last week's rank: 8)

This is quite the rope-a-dope they're pulling. I dropped them, but expect them to rebound and strike with a vengeance once everyone's written them off.

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