With their most challenging week of the schedule so far, the Spurs had a chance to make an impression, and overall they did. They once again showed their chops in the clutch against a surging Houston Rockets club, beat down the struggling Portland Trailblazers in their own home, and got revenge against the Chicago Bulls in a rare Christmas Day victory for the Gregg Popovich era.
While they failed to beat the Blake Griffin-less L.A. Clippers in an uninspired effort from everyone not named Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs are slowly but surely putting it together on both ends. At this point, consistency on a nightly baseless from all the starters seems to be the main kink left to work out. This week’s schedule sets up nicely for just that, with no back-to-backs and home match-ups against Phoenix and Portland and trip to Atlanta to kick off 2017.
Jon Schuhumann, NBA.com: 3 (last week: 2)
That Spurs bench - best bench in the West once again - continues to develop. LaMarcus Aldridge had the big game against the Bulls on Sunday, but a lot of people learned the name of Dewayne Dedmon, who provided a lift with nine points, six rebounds and a pair of assists in key moments. Patty Mills hit the game-winner in Houston on Tuesday and scorched the Blazers on Friday. And with Manu Ginobili missing two games last week, Dejounte Murray - the guy GMs picked as the biggest steal in the Draft - got some rotation time and will probably be winning games for them next week.
David Aldridge, NBA.com: 1 (last week: 1)
Dewayne Dedman, Definitely Discouraging to Drivers.
Marc Stein, ESPN: 3 (last week: 4)
Not the first time this question has been posed, but maybe it's the most appropriate time: Is this the best coaching job we've seen from Gregg Popovich? Tim Duncan's retirement, the slow starts to the season by Tony Parker and LaMarcus Aldridge, and Aldridge and Pau Gasol struggling to mesh together are a lot to manage. But perhaps what we saw from Aldridge against Chicago will get him going; his 33 points established a club record on Christmas (co-shared previously by George Gervin and Sean Elliott with 32).
Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated: 4 (last week: 4)
This group has been regular-season dominant as usual, but exactly how the Spurs can make a run come playoff time is a more complicated matter. Read Rob Mahoney’s recent piece for more.
Matt Moore, CBS Sports: 2 (last week: 4)
The Spurs put a beating on the Bulls, and are now third in defense per 100 possessions. Their offense is back to a seamless, well-oiled machine of clinical demolition.
Kurt Helin, NBC Sports: 3 (last week: 2)
San Antonio has won 7-of-8 and showed us on Christmas how they can make a defense look bad with their ball movement, especially if said defense not that fleet of foot (like the Bulls). Also, Christmas was an example of what they can do to a traditional big who wants to stay near the basket, because both LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol can space the floor. Soft schedule this week should keep the wins coming. Even if the questions about how good this team really is linger.