The Spurs had another unsightly home loss last week, but that didn’t stop them from continuing to inch up in the power rankings. The question is how much of that movement is the Spurs actually improving (evidence says they slowly but surely are), and how much of it can be credited to some slippage from the Cleveland Cavaliers and L.A. Clippers?
Either way, these facts remain: San Antonio has the second best record in the league (16-4), they’re undefeated on the road (11-0), and they’ve won 11 of their last 12 games, even if it hasn’t always been pretty. There is no doubt that this team has plenty of work to do (especially on defense), but even so — if this is where the “rebuilding” Spurs sit 20 games into Year 1 A.D., then I’ll take it, and any other franchise would too.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com - 2 (last week: 3)
The Spurs didn't exactly coast through a relatively easy schedule last week. They lost at home to the Magic (on a cold-shooting night), needed a big fourth quarter to win in Dallas, and needed Kawhi Leonard's game winner to beat the Wizards. They've still won 11 of their last 12 games and are 11-0 on the road, where they'll play seven of their next 10 games. Amazingly, they're 16-4 even though their starting bigs - LaMarcus Aldridge and Paul Gasol - are a minus-4 together this season. The Spurs allowed 115 points per 100 possessions in 73 minutes in their last three games together.
David Aldridge, NBA.com - 2 (last week: 3)
Next man up: Spurs turn without hesitation to rookie point Nicolas Laprovittola with Tony Parker banged up again. Of course, the Argentinian does just fine in two starts.
Marc Stein, ESPN - 3 (last week: 3)
What would you do if you were us? Laud the Spurs for becoming just the third team in history, along with the 1969-70 Knicks and last season's Warriors, to win their first 11 road games? Or light into them Pop-style for the inexplicable setback to Orlando that, along with earlier L's to the Jazz and Clippers, saddled San Antonio with three losses at home by at least 12 points in November? The Spurs have previously lived through only two months like that (both in the 1996-97 season that led to the draft pick that became Tim Duncan) in the whole Gregg Popovich era.
Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated - 3 (last week: 4)
I’m guilty of already having fallen into the annual Spurs lull, even though they’ve won 10 of their past eleven, which has included travel spurts on both coasts and three back to backs. That slate included plenty of winnable games, and they’re not blowing teams out, but it’s the consistency that’s a hallmark of this franchise.
Matt Moore, CBS Sports - 2 (last week: 3)
This is ... difficult. They're here because they've won 11 of 12 and they're the Spurs. But it should be noted that only four of those wins were against teams over .500, and they've slipped to 12th in defense. The Clippers' losing streak just can't be ignored vs. the Spurs' winning stretch, but I'm becoming more and more skeptical of the Spurs as a real championship threat.
Kurt Helin, NBC Sports - 2 (last week: 3)
Does it shock anyone the Spurs are the best catch-and-shoot team in the NBA? They don’t shoot the most (that’s Brooklyn, actually), but about one-third of their shots come this way and they get a league-best 118 points per 100 possessions off them. They move the ball, and they have shooters, it’s a system that works. Winners of 11 of their last 12, the Spurs start the week with three games on the road (including in Milwaukee and Chicago) before coming home to take on the Nets.