This week the focus was on the fact that it was a short week with the All-Star Break looming. So we’ll keep this short.
Week 17: The San Antonio Spurs have been limping along on this Rodeo Road trip and the “bulls” have been knocking the good guys off. The game last Monday against the Denver Nuggets was a hard one because we saw the familiar collapse - the Spurs leading by double digits just to blow it all in the final quarter. But for a bit, for those first few “seconds,” I mean the first quarter, it looked beautiful. Ball movement, shots falling, everyone contributing. Then bam, it was gone. Then the Silver and Black got on a plane, landed in Oklahoma City at 3 a.m. to play a second game the next night. Everyone expected it to be a loss. But the Spurs still had some fight left. The opening minutes saw a ton of physicality and neither team seemed able to pull away. But the Spurs kept it close and kept fighting, and they managed to avoid the collapse to hang on the full “8 seconds,” ahem - sorry - full four quarters. Here’s hoping that momentum is something to build on.
Last week: 1-1 (23-31) — 127-120 @ Nuggets (loss); 114-106 @ Thunder
This week: Friday, 2/21 @ Utah Jazz; Sunday, 2/23 @ Oklahoma City Thunder
Tim MacMahon, ESPN - 18 (Last Week: 18)
The Spurs share the record for the longest streak of consecutive playoff appearances in NBA history with 22, matching a run by the Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers. The odds are against San Antonio extending its run to 23 seasons. ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gives the Spurs, currently five games behind the eighth-place Grizzlies, only a 16.2% chance to make the playoffs.
Michael Shapiro, SI.com - ?? (Last Week: 16)
Colin Ward-Henninger, CBS Sports - 19 (Last Week: 19)
The Spurs lost to the Nuggets to start the week, but picked up a good win against the Thunder the following night. LaMarcus Aldridge came alive, scoring 33 points against Denver and putting up 25 points and 14 rebounds in the win at OKC. The Spurs are now five games back of the Grizzlies for the final playoff spot out West.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com - 18 (Last Week: 19)
The Spurs lost their first five games of the rodeo trip, getting outscored by 36 points per 100 possessions in 71 minutes with LaMarcus Aldridge off the floor. But their bench came up big (Patty Mills and Derrick White combined for 37 points) as they went into the break with a win in Oklahoma City. We’ve been seeing a little more of White and Dejounte Murray playing together over the last few weeks, and the Spurs have scored 60 points on 43 possessions with the pair on the floor over the trip.
They still have a lot of work to do if they’re going to keep their playoff streak (22 years and counting) alive, trailing the eight-place Grizzlies by five games coming out of the break. Their remaining schedule is easier than that of the Grizz, but the Spurs haven’t been great at taking care of business, just 13-13 in games between the 16 teams that currently have losing records.
Grant Hughes, Bleacher Report - 21 (Last Week: 19)
The Spurs won at Oklahoma City on Tuesday after an 0-5 start to their annual rodeo trip. That’s small consolation for a team now looking very likely to miss the playoffs for the first time since 1997.
It’s strange that the main point of interest for Spurs viewers is now future development. But for the first time in two-plus decades, that’s where the focus has to be. And there’s good news on that front. Dejounte Murray scored a career-high 25 points in that 114-106 victory over OKC, and he’s established himself as one of the league’s best rebounding guards while also hitting 37.8 percent of his treys.
Murray’s full-season averages of 10.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.6 steals don’t leap off the page (except for the steals), but there are only five other players matching them this season. All of them are All-Stars.
So do you think the Spurs will get rest and build on the win versus the Thunder? Or do you think the long time off will just lead to rust and more losses? Do you agree with the analysts? Let us know in the comments.