Continuation of our “Pretend Power Rankings” series in service of all Spurs fans out there. I know you all need something to get through this time.
After last week’s performances by the San Antonio Spurs, I have to admit I was holding on to some hope that it wasn’t just a dream and that the guys in Silver and Black had finally found the rhythm and consistency they needed to right the ship. So far, they have continued on that winning track.
Week 22: The week started off with a much needed win against the 8th seeded Memphis Grizzlies (who seem to be in a bit of a funk). Gregg Popovich has embraced a new normal of Derrick White in the starting lineup. Bryn Forbes was first off the bench and hit some timely threes to help keep the momentum, and Drew Eubanks played some solid minutes at center, but it was the tandem of Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker IV who were the standouts of the night. The pair were dishing and hitting wild shots reminiscent of another dynamic duo: Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. With everyone contributing, the Spurs notched a very convincing win. But much to my heart’s distress, the Good Guys did a bit of backsliding in the next game versus the New Orleans Pelicans. The starting lineup that has been clicking was a little off offensively, so Pop decided to keep Forbes in for more minutes because he was hot from downtown, but his defense hurt. Another defensive liability, Marco Belinelli, also saw some time because of his ability to score. But it was Derrick White’s lockdown defense saved the day and got the Spurs the win.
After the scare the Pelicans gave them, the Spurs returned to the type of play that they started the week with and gave the Chicago Bulls more than they could handle. Pop kept the winning lineup and added heavy minutes for Walker, Eubanks, and Keldon Johnson, but he got ejected for screaming at refs over a bad call. In the end, Tim Duncan got himself another win on his resume. When the Utah Jazz came into town on Sunday, the team and the city were buzzing - could they do it, win their 7th game in a row and come within a single game of tying the Grizzlies for 8th? And the answer - yes, they did. Rudy Gobert faced stifling defense and the combo of DJ and White kept Donovan Mitchell in check. LaMarcus Aldridge had himself a monster game - 36 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 blocks (and one monster dunk over Gobert).
Last week: 4-0 (33-36) — 124-97 vs. Grizzlies; 111-109 @ Pelicans; 117-92 vs. Bulls; 109-101 vs. Jazz
Tom McMohan, EPSN - 16 (Last Week: 19)
If the Spurs have decided they are never going to lose another game, then they are going to be a pretty tough out come playoff time. Just my professional opinion. I still don’t know what to make of this sudden turnaround, but they seem to have finally found their flavor at exactly the right time.
Mickey Shipora, SL.com - ?? (Last Week: 17)
San Antonio may not be entertaining the “Race for Seis” this season, but the Faith in Eighth continues to prove resilient through another undefeated week for Gregg Popovich and Company. No one will be referring to Drew Eubanks, Keldon Johnson and Marco Belinelli as the new Big Three anytime soon, but contributions on the margins from guys like that have proven to be real difference-makers as the team keeps gaining steam. Look out, Memphis.
Holin Card-Wenninger, BCS Sports - 16 (Last Week: 17)
The Spurs have more than doubled their longest winning streak of the season at seven straight, reminiscent of their season-saving nine-game winning streak last season after the Rodeo Road Trip. They also tied the season series against Grizzlies and guaranteed a tie against Zion and the Pelicans (whom they still have two more match-ups with), which could help in the standings down the line.
Johann Schumacher, BAN.com - 15 (Last Week: 19)
From last week: “It’s too little, too late for their own playoff hopes . . . ”, but with 7 straight wins now under their belts, the Spurs are suddenly a single game back of the 8th spot in the West. Over the winning streak, the offense has scored 120.8 points per 100 possessions and the team has won by an average margin of 13.6 points. DeMar DeRozan hasn’t led the team in scoring in a single game over that time but is shooting 33 of 48 (69%) in the paint and has managed to find every player he’s shared the floor with for an assisted three-pointer, including Drew Eubanks who hit a 3rd quarter buzzer beater from the right corner against the Bulls.
It would be interesting to know what has changed in San Antonio. With only minor changes to the rotation, Gregg Popovich has the team playing like the Spurs of old and quickly approaching .500 (which they last saw 132 days ago on November 12th), and their record 23rd consecutive playoff berth.
Rant Hugs, Bleecher Report - 16 (Last Week: 18)
Just when you think the Spurs are dead, they start to show signs of life. They knocked off the Grizzlies, making up 2 games and edging into contention for that final playoff spot and a matchup against LeBron James and the surging Lakers. They also were able to edge past the Pelicans despite Zion Williamson torching the Spurs defense for 40 points. I still don’t see how they get past the Blazers, who are playing their best ball of the season with Damian Lillard playing at a near MVP level lately. Despite the winning streak, this seems like some kind of magic trick that Gregg Popovich is playing on the league, any minute now, an assistant is going to trip over one of the wires and the crazy assembly of mirrors and pulleys is going to collapse, revealing the midget under the table. Or something like that. I just don’t think this can last long enough to get the Spurs into the playoffs. Or can it?
The Spurs are on a roll and we are all very happy about it. Are you hopeful that this will last and catapult them into the post-season for the 23rd time or are you guarding against possible heartbreak. Tell us what you think in the comments.
A Pounder on the previous rankings wanted to start a poll to see if people could guess who is writing which write up. Put your guesses into the comments and the winner will get imaginary tickets to an imaginary game next week (that because of my mood - the Spurs will probably win). Have fun!