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Power Rankings, Week 24: Still work to do

The Spurs took care of business at home, but they’re not out of the woods yet.

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NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The best thing that could have happened for the Spurs’ season was going 6-0 on that home-stand. They did just that, getting themselves back on solid ground in the playoff hunt. LaMarcus Aldridge played a huge role in their turnaround, averaging 32.2 points and 9 rebounds, including a career-high 45 in a must-win against the Utah Jazz.

However, they aren’t on completely stable ground yet. While not catastrophic, a let-down loss in Milwaukee stifled the Spurs’ momentum and decreased the cushioning they had built over other teams during the last two weeks. Jeph Duarte is doing an excellent job of keeping everyone up to date on the playoff standings, so I won’t delve too deep into it here, but suffice it say the Spurs aren’t home free just yet.

With four home and four road games remaining — five against currently playoff bound teams, plus a Clippers team with a winning record — the Spurs will have to start getting results away from the AT&T Center. A good start will be tomorrow in Washington D.C., where the Spurs will go up against a John Wall-less Wizards team for the second time in a week, followed by another difficult home stand that includes a crucial game against OKC.

The Spurs are getting back on track, but anything can happen between now and April 11. There is still work to be done.

Week 23 - Are the Spurs back? The Spurs headed in the right direction again midway through their six-game home-stand.

Last Week: 3-1 (43-31) - 89-75 vs. Warriors, 98-90 vs. Wizards, 124-120 OT vs. Jazz, 103-106 @ Bucks

This week: Tues. @ Wizards (40-33), Thurs. vs. Thunder (44-31), Sun. vs. Rockets (60-14)

John Schuhmann, - 12 (last week: 12)

The Spurs saved their season by holding their opponents to just 93 points per 100 possessions over a 6-0 homestand, culminating in an overtime win over the Jazz, with LaMarcus Aldridge scoring a career-high 45 points and the two biggest plays being offensive rebounds against the team that ranks fourth in defensive rebounding percentage. But, with Sunday’s loss in Milwaukee, the Spurs have lost eight of their last nine games on the road. Their remaining schedule is even (four at home and four on the road), though three of the home games are against the Thunder, Rockets and Blazers. They’ve lost each of their three games against Houston by double-digits and rank 16th defensively against the No. 1 offense in the league.

Pace: 97.2 (29) OffRtg: 105.4 (18) DefRtg: 101.9 (2) NetRtg:+3.5 (7)

David Aldridge, - 9 (last week: 10)

I don’t even know you anymore, Spurs.

ESPN Staff - 9 (last week: 11)

The Spurs have won six of their last seven, with the lone setback coming Sunday in Milwaukee where they nearly came back from 15 down in the fourth quarter, something they’ve only done three times under Gregg Popovich. LaMarcus Aldridge has been on a tear during San Antonio’s resurgence, averaging 32.4 points per game, which trails only LeBron James over that span. Aldridge’s 79 points over his past two games is tied for the most he has ever dropped over any two-game span.

Rohan Nadkarni, Sports Illustrated - 8 (last week: 8)

San Antonio had won six in a row until its loss to the Bucks on Sunday. Amid all the turmoil surrounding Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs are still only a half-game behind the Thunder for homecourt in the first-round of the playoffs. A Spurs-Warriors first-round series sans Steph Curry is also in play, and that could be a very, very intriguing matchup.

Chris Barnewall, CBS Sports - 9 (last week: 12)

What a bizarre situation the Kawhi Leonard saga has become. He’s only played nine games this season, but he’s apparently been medically cleared and has not felt confident enough to return. A players-only meeting led by veteran Tony Parker was held last week to implore him to get back on the court before the end of the season. This kind of stuff typically never happens to the Spurs.

(Author’s note: I just realized I’ve been calling this dude “Barnwell” all season. Apologies, good sir.)

AJ Neuharth-Keusch, USA Today - 9 (last week: 11)

From Manu Ginobili saying he’s operating under the assumption that Kawhi Leonard won’t return this season to Tony Parker deeming his own quad injury “one hundred times” worse than Leonard’s, one of the NBA season’s most bizarre story lines isn’t going away. And yet somehow the Spurs, winners of six of their last seven, continue to stay afloat.