When I say the Spurs will be just fine, I mean that in the sincerest terms, not like the sarcastic “This is fine” meme from the comic series Gunshow that depicts a cartoon dog in complete denial as everything around him burns. That is not what is happening here. The Spurs are in what you call a mid-season rut. They’re already practically locked into their playoff spot: most likely too far behind to catch the top-seeded Golden State Warriors, but also with an extremely comfortable 4-loss cushion on the third-seeded Houston Rockets. They’ve shown they can beat both those teams and the Cleveland Cavaliers when they’re completely zoned in, so what is there to prove right now?
At this point effort from basically anyone not named Kawhi Leonard, Dewayne Dedmon, or David Lee is the main concern, but we’ve seen this team bring it and know they will again when it matters most. Pau Gasol will return soon, and his reliable outside shot should help the offense reboot a bit, particularly by forcing LaMarcus Aldridge back inside where he’s been more accurate, spreading the floor more, and putting more juice back on the bench with that energetic Dedmon-Lee duo. Most importantly, refer back to one of last week’s links regarding the Rodeo Road Trip, and remember this all important quote before you panic:
If we look at the history of Spurs road trips, especially the four years in which the Spurs won championships, the road trip record wasn’t the real indicator of success. It was the games that followed.
With that out of the way, here is where the Spurs stand in this week’s power rankings as they head into All-Star weekend after games in Indiana and Orlando:
Jon Schuhmann, NBA.com - 4 (last week: 2)
The Spurs have been only slightly worse offensively on the road (109.8 points scored per 100 possessions) than they've been at home (110.2), but only three teams - Dallas, Cleveland and the Clippers - have taken a higher percentage of their shots from outside the paint. When the jumpers aren't falling, things can get ugly. That was the case in Memphis (without Kawhi Leonard) on Monday and in New York (where they're just 2-4 since 2011) on Sunday when they shot a combined 30 percent from outside the paint and assisted on less than half (28/63) of their buckets.
Pace: 96.8 (26) OffRtg: 110.0 (5) DefRtg: 101.2 (1) NetRtg: +8.8 (2)
David Aldridge, NBA.com - 3 (last week: 1)
Rodeo Trip. You know what that means.
Marc Stein, ESPN - 3 (last week: 2)
We wrote it a few years ago in our Spurs e-book in advance of the 2014 NBA Finals. And Gregg Popovich confirmed it earlier this month when he set a new league record for the most regular-season coaching victories (1,128) with one franchise. It is the idea that the Spurs, in the early days of the Pop era, looked upon the Stockton/Malone/Sloan Jazz as their role models. So you have to believe that the Spurs -- even though they're only off to a humble 2-2 start on their annual Rodeo Road Trip -- are proud of this one, too: Friday night's victory over Detroit assured San Antonio of its 20th consecutive .500 or-better season. Which is one shy of the league-record 21 consecutive such seasons established by (who else?) Team Blueprint in The SLC from 1983-84 through 2003-04.
Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated - 3 (last week: 2)
It’s common for anyone to have letdowns when spending two entire weeks on the road, but dropping a close one to a scrambling Knicks team hurts a little bit. But yes, these are the Spurs, and they’re gonna survive.
AJ Neuharth-Keusch, USA Today - 2 (last week: 2)
As should come as no surprise, the Spurs — on pace for the second-most wins in franchise history (behind last season's 67 wins) — rank fifth in the NBA in offensive rating (110.2 points scored per 100 possessions), first in defensive rating (101.1 points allowed per 100 possessions) and second in net rating (plus-9.1).
Matt Moore, CBS Sports - 6 (last week: 1)
The Memphis loss was a whatever game, mainly because Kawhi Leonard was out. The loss to the Knicks was random. It's odd. Their resume is impeccable and yet there's something about this team that isn't quite as trustworthy as when Tim Duncan was around, even in a limited role.
Kurt Helin, NBC Sports - 3 (last week: 2)
They are 2-2 to start off the annual rodeo road trip after a surprising loss to the Knicks Sunday. Tony Parker failed to score against the Knicks, a team that doesn’t exactly have a great defensive backcourt, which is why San Antonio is and should be concerned about what Parker brings in the playoffs. That said, Kawhi Leonard is playing like an MVP and the team is on pace for 62 wins.