It is the midpoint of the season and I still don’t know what to make of this iteration of the San Antonio Spurs. After going 3-1 last week against some of the top teams in the league, the Good Guys split the two games against Miami and, sandwiched between, lost to the Hawks.
Week 13: After playing a close, dramatic game versus the Raptors in the frozen North, the Spurs had an extreme change of scenery that seemed to impact their game (at least I’m going to blame it on the change in latitude). DeMar DeRozan has been incredible lately, skyrocketing up the recordbooks, but the Spurs couldn’t ride his coattails through the entire game against the Miami Heat to carry them to a win. Now usually, the team takes a tongue-lashing from Gregg Popovich after that kind of a loss into their next game and convert it to energy and focus. But that didn’t happen when the Spurs rolled into Atlanta to play the lottery-bound Hawks. Flashbacks of early season collapses haunted fans when the Spurs, who were up by 11 after a third quarter clinic by DeRozan, seemed to lose focus and let the Hawks steal the game. But many were hoping (me included) that a return home to face the Heat for a second time in 5 days would allow the Silver and Black to right the ship. Sunday’s game was alternately sloppy and amazing, but in the end, the Good Guys won behind DeRozan and an inspired Patty Mills.
Last week: 1-2 (18-23) — 106-100 @ Heat (loss); 121-120 @ Hawks (loss); 107-102 vs. Heat
This week: Monday, 1/20 @ Phoenix Suns; Wednesday, 1/22 # New Orleans Pelicans; Friday, 1/24 vs. Phoenix Suns; Sunday, 1/26 vs. Toronto Raptors
Tim MacMahon, ESPN - 17 (Last Week: 16)
DeMar DeRozan continues to be an exception in the analytics era as a wing scorer who shies away from shooting 3s, but it’s hard to complain about his efficiency. His 7-of-16 outing in Sunday’s win over the Heat, when he had 20 points, eight rebounds and nine assists, ended a streak of 13 straight games when DeRozan shot at least 50% from the floor. He has averaged 26.6 points on 62.3% shooting in the past 14 games, making a total of only three 3s in that span.
Michael Shapiro, SI.com - 16 (Last Week: 17)
DeMar DeRozan is likely to just short of an All-Star appearance, but he’s been brilliant of late. DeRozan scored 20-plus points in 13 straight games from Dec. 21 to Jan. 17, shooting 50% or better in all 13 games. DeRozan’s three-phobia is frustrating, but he’s still turning in quite the impressive 2019-20.
Colin Ward-Henninger, CBS Sports - 18 (Last Week: 15)
The Spurs split two games with the Heat this week, with a bad home loss to the lowly Hawks in between. DeMar DeRozan finally shot less than 50 percent from the field in Sunday’s win over Miami, but he’s been playing great recently, averaging 25 points, 8.3 assists and 7.7 rebounds for the week. LaMarcus Aldridge has continued to let it fly from deep, shooting over four 3-pointers per game this week.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com - 15 (Last Week: 15)
As they hit the midway point of their season, the Spurs are in a better place, at least offensively, than they were around Thanksgiving. DeMar DeRozan (69.4%) and LaMarcus Aldridge (63.7%) rank first and fifth, respectively, in true shooting percentage among 88 players with at least 150 field goal attempts over the last month. When DeRozan’s streak of 13 straight games of shooting 50% or better came to an end on Sunday, he dished out nine assists for the third time in his last five. Aldridge is still over 50% from 3-point range over the 13 games since he started launching liberally.
But the Spurs still haven’t put it all together. Over those four weeks since the offense opened up, they still rank as a bottom-10 defensive team, and their fourth-quarter offense has been a problem of late. They’ve scored less than a point per possession in four of their last five fourth quarters, blowing fourth-quarter leads in Miami on Wednesday and against Atlanta on Friday. After going scoreless for more than four minutes against the Heat again on Sunday, Aldridge and DeRozan led a 10-0 run that kept them within a game in the loss column of the eighth-place Grizzlies.
Grant Hughes, Bleacher Report - 17 (Last Week: 15)
DeMar DeRozan’s heater finally burned itself out. After 13 straight games with at least 20 points on 50 percent shooting, the longest streak in league history by a guard, he finished Sunday’s 107-102 loss to the Miami Heat with 20 points on 7-of-16 shooting.
San Antonio will take the victory, though. It needed a palate cleanser after Friday’s dispiriting 121-120 loss to the Hawks, although the only thing people will remember from that contest is Dejounte Murray turning in one of the highlights of the week (and possibly of the season) when he crossed Trae Young into oblivion.
This has been a season divided for San Antonio, and though it’s imprecise, you can split it into sections that came before and after LaMarcus Aldridge’s decision to start firing from deep. He took five treys on Dec. 23, helping the Spurs beat Memphis by 30. Before that game, San Antonio was 11-17 with a minus-3.5 net rating.
Since, the Spurs are 7-6 (1-2 this week) with a plus-5.3 net rating.
This isn’t all about Aldridge, either. His willingness to fire from deep has been key to opening lanes for DeRozan and everyone else on the roster.
Behold the power of the three.
Do you think DeRozan can keep this pace up? Will the three point shooters get their mojo back? After half a season, do you still think the Spurs will make their 23rd appearance in the playoffs? Let us know what you think in the comments.