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Power Rankings, Week 20: Spurs appear ready for the tough tests to come

Following a solid win over rival OKC, the Spurs take on a challenging three-game slate at home this week, which ends with a rematch against the Warriors.

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Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Just as Coach Popovich can shrug off eight Danny Green three-point misses in a row and tell him to keep letting it fly, we can forgive USA Today for forgetting where the Spurs play and Marc Stein for throwing out another very-ESPN, asterisk-laden stat. What I can't as easily forgive is CBS Sports' Matt Moore for knowingly and willingly hitting us with some bad joo joo ahead of San Antonio's encore (redo?) matchup with Golden State.

Is Moore crazy for ranking the Spurs ahead of the world-beating Warriors for a second week in a row? FiveThirtyEight last week had them with a better chance than Golden State to win the title, and this week they're not far behind: 33% to the Warriors' 37%. Net rating still favors San Antonio, and a Spurs win this week (along with any other hiccups caused by Andre Iguodala's ankle injury) could see that 3.5-game difference between the two teams narrow even more.

Pop stressed that the Ws and Ls aren't what matters most when prompted about this challenging final stretch to the year:

"I think it's important to be playing teams that you'll probably be playing in the playoffs at some point," Popovich said. "It's kind of like a final exam, in a way, where you see you still have time to improve some things. But it's about how you play -- not the win or the loss, really. If we win, we won't be that excited. If we lose, we won't be that depressed."

Of course he's mostly right. After the walloping the silver and black took in Oakland in January, many fans would settle for a more competitive contest between the league's best. The Spurs still have time to improve, and challenges like Saturday's will only help them do so in the season's final month.

Before that test, the Spurs can atone for another earlier-season blowout loss when they face the Clippers Tuesday night. And not to be overlooked is a Portland team that, despite being 3-4 in March, will have every intention of snapping San Antonio's home streak if it remains intact come Thursday.

Marc Stein, ESPN (Spurs rank: 2, Last week's rank: 2)

The Spurs, with wins over the Bulls and Thunder, are 2-0 on the longest homestand in team history in which every opponent (of the five) will sport a winning record when they arrive at the AT&T Center. Next up it's the Clippers, Blazers and Warriors visiting San Antonio, which needed that strong close against OKC more than you think after losing eight of the teams' previous 12 encounters.

USA Today (Spurs rank: 2, Last week's rank: 2)

San Antonio, which has won 41 in a row at home and beat the Thunder on Saturday, faces the Clippers, the Trail Blazers and the Warriors in its next three games, all at Oracle Arena.

John Schuhmann, (Spurs rank: 2, Last week's rank: 2)

The Spurs, Warriors or both could become the first team(s) to go through a season without ever losing two straight games. In a stunning development, Gregg Popovich put that distinction at risk by resting guys in Minnesota on Tuesday, a night after losing in Indiana. The Spurs won anyway and, at plus-13.33, are a hair behind the '95-96 Bulls (plus-13.34) for the best NetRtg since the league starting counting turnovers in 1977.

David Aldridge, (Spurs rank: 2, Last week's rank: 2)

14th season out of 17 non-lockout seasons in the Tim Duncan era with at least 55 victories. And in the three non-lockout seasons the Spurs didn't win 55 games, they won 50, 53 and 54 games. Since coming to the NBA in 1976, the Spurs have 19 seasons with 55 or more wins. Only the Lakers have more during that period (20).

Matt Moore,  CBS Sports Spurs rank: 1, Last week's rank: 1)

Why, yes, I am jinxing them into oblivion by continuing to have them over the Warriors with their big game against Golden State looming Saturday. Thanks for asking. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated (Spurs rank: 2, Last week's rank: 2)

LaMarcus Aldridge has gotten fully comfortable at the right time, scoring 20-plus in seven straight and averaging 25 and nine rebounds in that span. The talk surrounding this team has paled somewhat since their 30-point drubbing at Golden State, but the Spurs have, unsurprisingly, been making strides of their own.

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