The Spurs had only one game this past week before taking the long All-Star break. The one game was against the new-look Memphis Grizzlies who had just traded away their Gasol brother (Marc) to the Toronto Raptors for Jonas Valanciunas, among others. The Spurs finished splitting the season series. The rest of the week consisted of one Spur invited to the All-Star weekend festivities to try and convince Spurs fans to watch.
Week 18 - 1 plus All-Star Weekend: The game against the updated Grizzlies meant that we didn’t get one final Gasol vs Gasol game. Instead, the silver and black will have to wait until the 22nd to see Marc Gasol when San Antonio plays the Raptors. LaMarcus Aldridge proved himself to be a real All-Star pulling the Spurs back from what would have been a dismal loss that would have made it a 5 game losing streak.
Last week: 1-0 (33-26) 108-107 @ Grizzlies
This week: Friday, 2/22 @ Toronto Raptors; Sunday, 2/24 @ New York Knicks
Tim MacMahon, ESPN - 12 (last week: 12)
Can DeMar DeRozan get his groove back? His production and efficiency have slipped significantly since the calendar flipped to 2019, as he has dealt with fatigue and nagging injuries. The Spurs look like a good bet to extend their playoff streak to record-tying 22 years. The question is whether Spurs can do any damage once they get there.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com - 13 (last week: 13) (updated 2/19/19 @ 2:23 pm cst)
After allowing an incredible 128.7 points per 100 possessions through their first four rodeo-trip games, the Spurs got a one-point win (in which they came back from 13 points down) going into the break by getting some much-needed stops down the stretch in Memphis last Tuesday. They’ve still got a long way to go to avoid finishing in the bottom 10 in defensive efficiency and/or missing the playoffs for the first time since they drafted Tim Duncan. They’re just a game in the loss column ahead of the ninth-place Kings, having already lost the tiebreaker. They’ll actually play 14 of their 23 games, including all three in the post-break portion of the rodeo trip, against the Eastern Conference.
Khadrice Rollins, SI.com - 14 (last week: 15)
Injuries suck. And for this year’s Spurs, Dejounte Murray’s torn ACL lowered the ceiling for San Antonio’s season. If Murray was out there, DeMar DeRozan wouldn’t be quite the facilitator that he’s proven to be this season, but he might have been able to avoid some wear and tear that appears to have been slowing him up over the past month.
But, with Gregg Popovich leading and LaMarcus Aldridge putting together another All-Star season, San Antonio has been able to prevail. Barring a wild finish to the year, Popovich will have to experience losing more than 32 games for third time of his career, but he is likely headed for his 22nd consecutive playoff appearance.
If they can go in with DeRozan and Aldridge healthy, the Spurs will pose a threat to anybody that’s not the Warriors in a first-round matchup. And if the cards fall the right way, San Antonio could easily be making a trip to the second round, or maybe even the conference finals depending on just how things shake up.
Shockingly, the thing that is going to hold back a Popovich squad from getting the most out of its season is poor defense.
Maybe there is still time to turn it around and create a situation where the Spurs steal even more out of this season than most expected them to after Murray went down. Maybe the ball will bounce the right way and Popovich will get a chance to demonstrate his playoff prowess and this team gets a chance to make a classic San Antonio deep run into May.
Or maybe, DeRozan and Aldridge will keep playing at the high level that they have while the accompanying pieces continue to fill their roles, but everything breaks just the wrong way one more time. There’s a big difference in what a team can do with the six seed or the seven seed vs. the four, five or eight seeds with the way things seem to be shaking out in the West. Maybe that’s the break San Antonio catches this season.
Reid Forgrave, CBS Sports - 12 (last week: 12)
Quietly, the Spurs have been sliding, 8-7 over their past 15 games and hanging on to a playoff spot. Worse is their advanced stats: The Spurs -- Gregg Popovich’s Spurs -- rank 29th in the NBA in defensive rating during that stretch. This team was living a charmed existence for a while, feasting off the mid-range and getting by with bad defense. We haven’t had a Spurs-less playoffs since 1997. That might change this year.
So what do you think, Pounders? Have the Spurs righted the ship? Will the All-Star Break be enough to recharge the batteries for the final push to the playoffs? Are the pundits correct? Let us know in the comments.