For a frustrated San Antonio fan, this might be hard to believe, but the 2018-19 Spurs are actually one of the best teams in the league... at home.
As of today, the Spurs own the 4th best home record in the NBA at 24-7 (.774), which is also good enough for 2nd in the Western Conference, behind Denver's 27-6.
Unfortunately, they are also one of the league's worst teams on the road. The Road Spurs are 11-22 (.333), an abysmal 20th place in the NBA, which explains their precarious playoff position.
What's going on with this team?
My first thought was that we got a bad draw in the first half of the season, playing bad teams at home and good teams on the road.
But that's not an issue at this point. At home, they've had 14 matchups against "good teams" (currently .500+ records) vs. 17 against "bad teams" (sub-.500s). On the road, they've had 14 games against .500+ teams, 2 against the exactly .500 Kings, and 17 against losing teams.
So the home court advantage doesn't look like a fluke. In fact, Home Spurs have a slightly better record against .500+ teams (11-3) than they do against sub-.500 teams (13-4).
The real reason why the Spurs are a marginal playoff contender is that they have flopped against good teams outside San Antonio.
The Road Spurs have struggled against losing teams, too, with just a 9-8 record, and it's demoralizing to lose to tanking franchises like the Knicks, Suns, and Grizzlies.
But worse by far is their awful road record against good teams. The Road Spurs been eviscerated by .500 or higher teams, with only 2 wins to 14 losses.
Most of the L's in this bracket were close games: 9 of the 14 losses were decided by 10 points or fewer, and five were decided by 5 points or fewer. There were only three true blowouts (losing by 20 at Utah, 34 at Utah, and 39 at Golden State).
The good news is that this shows the Spurs are still competitive against winning teams, even on the road. The bad news is that they have consistently failed in the clutch against good teams outside San Antonio.
The Spurs usually win close games against bad teams, and they usually close out against good teams in San Antonio--in fact, they usually don't let it get close at home, with only 5 games decided by 10 points or fewer.
But on the road, in the clutch, against winning teams, they flop.
Unfortunately, "winning close games against good teams on the road" is as good a description as there is of what it means to be a contender in today's NBA.
The Spurs are a talented team, and they've proven they can win. But until they find some way (cough-transition defense-cough-cough) to win these games, against these opponents, they'll still be scrambling to get into the playoffs at all.