Four winnable games, four heartbreaking losses. The San Antonio Spurs have had a hard time finding their identity and the losses keep piling up. Is it a lineup problem? Is it a consistency issue? Are players not putting up the appropriate effort? Should there be a major shake up? Despite the gloom and doom, there have been some bright spots - Derrick White seems to be finding his 2018-19 rhythm, Trey Lyles is feeling more and more comfortable and Lonnie Walker IV got to play almost a whole quarter’s worth of time.
Week 4: It’s not every day that a team gets to retire the jersey of an all-time great and an event like that deserves all the joy and celebration a team and its fans can muster. Only the Spurs couldn’t manage to put away the Memphis Grizzlies in the game before Tony Parker’s jersey retirement ceremony. A comeback stalled and could have used some of Tony’s quickness and teardrops, but alas, it wasn’t so. The Silver and Black then headed out on a two-game roadie to face the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Orlando Magic. Both games were predicted wins for the the Spurs, but again, the Spurs came out sluggish. In both games, the offense was put up points, but the defense couldn’t make a stop and the losses keep coming. The rematch with the Portland Trail Blazers looked like a carbon copy of the first game - Spurs couldn’t keep up, got down by double digits, rallied for a comeback, and took a lead. But this time, the Good Guys couldn’t hold on to the lead, and Damian Lillard and Company snatched the victory away. But we did get to see what would happen if Gregg Popovich got ejected - coaching by committee — the first time, at least.
Last week: 0-4 (5-8) 113-109 vs. Grizzlies (loss); 129-114 @ Timberwolves (loss); 111-109 @ Magic (loss); 121-116 vs. Trail Blazers (loss)
This week: Monday, 11/18 @ Dallas Mavericks; Wednesday, 11/20 @ Washington Wizards; Friday, 11/22 @ Philadelphia 76ers; Saturday, 11/23 @ New York Knicks
Tim MacMahon, ESPN - 15 (Last Week: 13)
Can you blame Gregg Popovich for wanting to get ejected Saturday night? It’s been tough to watch the Spurs recently. San Antonio has lost five in a row, allowing 119.9 points per 100 possessions during the skid. The Spurs have had only one longer losing streak in the past two decades.
Michael Shapiro, SI.com - 19 (Last Week: 14)
The Spurs have lost eight of their last nine, and they could be one of the trade deadline’s most intriguing teams. DeMar DeRozan’s market is puzzling, though don’t be surprised if San Antonio pulls the trigger before his deal expires in July. If a team (likely a fringe Eastern Conference contender) offers up a first-round pick, R.C. Buford and Co. should jump at the asset rather than riding out the DeRozan era.
Colin Ward-Henninger, CBS Sports - 23 (Last Week: 15)
Yeesh. If there was any truth to those DeMar DeRozan trade rumors, they’re probably heating up even more right about now. San Antonio lost to the Grizzlies at home to kick off the week, then followed that up with road defeats at the hands of the Timberwolves, Magic and struggling Trail Blazers. The Spurs are among the league’s worst defensive teams, and that’s the first thing they’ll need to address if they’re going to pull themselves out of this spiral.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com - 20 (Last Week: 14)
OK. Now is it time to wonder if the Spurs’ playoff streak is coming to an end? They’ve lost five straight and have allowed 120 points per 100 possessions over the losing streak, with two of the five opponents - Memphis and Orlando - being teams that rank in the bottom five offensively. They had fourth-quarter leads in three of their four games last week, but gave up game-changing runs of 10-2, 12-0 and 10-0 to the Grizzlies, Magic and Blazers, respectively. Last season’s Spurs were three games under .500 (11-14) and in 14th place on Dec. 6, but the turnaround (a 13-3 stretch) began with a six-game homestand. These Spurs are heading out on a four-game trip, having already lost games in Atlanta and Orlando this month.
Grant Hughes, Bleacher Report - 19 (Last Week: 14)
The Spurs force the fewest turnovers and have the lowest three-point attempt rate in the league, which means they’ve got a razor-thin margin for error. If you’re not creating extra offensive possessions by taking the ball away from the other team, and you’re not going to accept the math (three is more than two) embraced throughout the league, you’ve got to be almost perfect to compete.
This seems like a good time to mention San Antonio has lost five games in a row for the first time since 2011.
The Spurs are 5-8, and it feels like some panic is appropriate. Of course, every time we count San Antonio out, it finds a way to make us look dumb. Don’t forget, these guys were thee games under .500 last year (11-14) before figuring things out.
Should the Spurs be worried? Are you worried? Let us know in the comments.