Despite finishing the Rodeo Road Trip on a positive note, beating the Cavs with a strong fourth quarter for a solid win, the Spurs blew big leads against the Lakers and Pelicans and lost winnable games in a very unSpurs-like manner. With LaMarcus Aldridge out with a sprained ankle and Rudy Gay coming off injury and not quite at full speed, the undermanned Spurs couldn’t close out against the young and talented Pelicans and Lakers.
Of course, a Kawhi Leonard return could still be in the cards, and if his quad tendon is fully healed, he would make a huge difference in the Spurs’ prospects for the remainder of the season. If he were to have any recurrence of the tendinopathy, it would likely signal the end of his season, and probably the team’s.
[Note: This article originally stated that Kawhi was “expected to rejoin the lineup this week”. It’s since been updated, as there’s yet to be an update on that front.]
Week 20 - The Final Push Begins Now. Things looked positive for the Spurs returning from the Rodeo road trip, but the injury bug bit again and it was another down week.
Last Week: 0-2 (37-26 overall) - 116-121 vs Pelicans, 112-116 vs Lakers
John Schuhmann, NBA.com - 15 (last week: 13)
Kawhi Leonard is back in San Antonio and could return this season, but LaMarcus Aldridge is dealing with an ankle injury and the Spurs have lost eight of their last 10 games to drop from third to sixth in the West. For once, defense has been more of an issue than offense, as they’ve allowed more than 110 points per 100 possessions in six of the eight losses and rank 19th on that end of the floor since Feb. 1, unable to control their shot selection as well as they did prior.
Pace: 97.1 (29) OffRtg: 105.5 (17) DefRtg: 102.4 (2) NetRtg:+3.1 (5)
David Aldridge, NBA.com - 7 (last week: 4)
As bad a patch (lost eight of last 10) as the Spurs have had in the Gregg Popovich era, and the schedule after Monday’s game with the Grizzlies doesn’t provide much relief.
San Antonio has hit a rough patch as of late, going 2-8 in its past 10 games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the worst 10-game stretch for the Spurs since they went 2-8 in the final 10 games of the 1996-97 season. The Spurs have also lost two straight home games after leading by 15 or more points in the second half, something they hadn’t done in 325 straight home games under the same scenario.
Rohan Nadkarni, Sports Illustrated - 14 (last week: 13)
The Spurs only have two wins since the start of February. Kawhi can’t come back soon enough.
Chris Barnwell, CBS Sports - 19 (last week: 18)
Gregg Popovich will inevitably end up on some Coach of The Year ballots, because he always does, but this isn’t the year for that. The Spurs have lost eight of their last 10. This isn’t Popovich’s fault, because they’ve been plagued by injuries all season to key players, but it’s bizarre to see the Spurs struggle like this.
AJ Neuharth-Keusch - 14 (last week: 6)
There’s no way the Spurs — y’know, the most consistent franchise in pro sports over these last 20 years — actually miss the playoffs, right? With the toughest remaining schedule in the NBA and uncertainty still surrounding the return of Kawhi Leonard, it’s entirely possible.