The San Antonio Spurs are trending upward but can we say that they have “turned the corner?” Two encouraging wins with a loss that got away from them provided Spurs fans with more positive feelings regarding this team’s post-season prospects.
Week 11 - Upward Trends: Gregg Popovich doesn’t like home and home games because they feel too much like the playoffs. Well, apparently the team agrees with him and the Spurs split the Denver home and home. The win in San Antonio was a great example of what happens with the Spurs stay focused for the entire 48. The game in Denver was not as complete a game as the Spurs fell behind early in the game and couldn’t complete the comeback by missing crucial free throws. The surprising win on the SEGABABA against the Clippers was another example of the Spurs starting to trend in the right direction.
Last week: 2-1 (20-17) 114-103 vs. Nuggets; 102-99 @ Nuggets (loss); 122-111 @ Clippers
This week: Monday, 12/31 vs. Boston Celtics; Thursday, 1/3 vs. Toronto Raptors; Saturday, 1/5 Memphis Grizzlies
Tim MacMahon, ESPN - 13 (last week: 13)
“Patience is like the first step in showing confidence in somebody or in a group,” coach Gregg Popovich said recently, and he knew that patience would be required with so much offseason roster turnover. It has paid off in December. The Spurs are 10-5 this month with a net rating of plus-10.4 points per 100 possessions. San Antonio entered the month 10-12 with a minus-3.5 net rating.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com - 9 (last week: 11)
The Spurs split their home-and-home with Denver, but in three games against top-10 offenses (those of the Nuggets and Clippers) last week, they held their opponents to less than 104 points per 100 possessions. Going back further, they rank third defensively (100.7 points allowed per 100 possessions) over their last 11 games, with a huge improvement in rim protection. Through their first 26 games, their opponents got 33 percent of their shots in the restricted area, where they shot 65 percent. Over their last 11 games, those numbers are just 24 percent and 54 percent, and the defense has been at its best (and the Spurs have outscored their opponents by more than 22 points per 100 possessions) with Jakob Poeltl on the floor. Their top-five offense will play six of its next seven games against top-10 defenses.
Khadrice Rollins, SI.com - 14 (last week: 13)
Prior to Friday’s loss to the Nuggets, the Spurs were on a ridiculous run.
And bouncing back on the second night of the back-to-back in Los Angeles right after that loss with an impressive win says that hot streak is still alive in San Antonio. Maybe LaMarcus Aldridge (29.7 points on 59.4% shooting with only two turnovers last week) and DeMar DeRozan (23.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 50% shooting last week) are a good duo in today’s game despite only making one three last week.
Reid Forgrave, CBS Sports - 14 (last week: 16)
The Spurs’ resolution: To keep LaMarcus Aldridge doing whatever it is he’s been doing the past dozen games, when the Spurs have been 9-3, their best stretch of the season. During that stretch, Aldridge has looked like the All-Star of 2017-18; he’s been averaging 22.1 points per game on just shy of 60 percent shooting as the Spurs have had the most efficient offense in the NBA. Before that? 18.3 points per game on 45.3 percent shooting.
Can the Spurs continue this upward trend in the New Year? Let us know what you think in the comments.