Our “Pretend Power Rankings” series continues in service of all Spurs fans out there; created in an effort to get us all through this time.
Over the past month, the San Antonio Spurs’ play had improved, and they finally pulled ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies, but this week proved to be a tough one in the battle to make the playoffs for the 23rd straight time. Considering the travails of the season, this coming week will either make the men of the Silver and Black hungrier for the playoffs or help them accept their fate.
Week 25: After last week’s undefeated stretch, the Spurs were on the verge of pulling off a miracle. So when the Sacramento Kings came to town on April 7th, it was easy to believe that anything was possible. But the Spurs came out sluggish and couldn’t get their offense going. Coach Gregg Popovich pulled the plug early and the young guns of Luka Samanic, Quinndary Weatherspoon, and Keldon Johnson got some extended run. While they provided a quick offensive spark that gave many in the AT&T Center some hope, they burned out quickly as mistakes were made and their defense was lacking. When the Spurs traveled to Houston, everyone knew it would be a tough go. The good guys continued to have trouble on offense, but the defense was better. Dejounte Murray and Derrick White took turns covering James Harden and kept him to a reasonable 21 points, but the Rockets’ role players were able to get in some buckets. More importantly, they got in the last bucket, giving the Spurs their second loss of the week.
Returning home to meet the Philadelphia 76ers, the Spurs were without the services of LaMarcus Aldridge and Dejounte Murray (LMA with some shoulder soreness and Murray for a tweaked calf). DeMar DeRozan made a valiant effort offensively - grabbing 32 points, but he was unable to help much on defense. But Aldridge’s interior defense was sorely missed as well when Joel Embiid got hot inside grabbing 10 rebounds and scoring 30 points in another loss for the Spurs. At this point, the Spurs were two games behind the Memphis Grizzlies. Then the Rockets came to the Alamo City and the Spurs played hungry. Murray and Aldridge were back on the court, fresh and ready to go. Trey Lyles went off from distance, making 6 three pointers in a row and ending the game with 8 total. Derrick White got hot defensively, turning into Harden’s worst nightmare - picking his pocket twice on his way to 3 steals for the night. The Silver and Black played well the entire game, sharing the ball, playing strong team defense, and getting their offense back on track. And maybe keeping their playoff hopes alive, pulling to within one game of the Grizzlies.
Last week: 1-3 (39-41) — 112-90 vs. Kings (loss); 109-107 @ Rockets (loss); 111-102 vs. 76ers (loss); 119-101 vs. Rockets (win)
This week: Monday, 4/13 @ Indiana Pacers; Wednesday, 4/14 vs. New Orleans Pelicans
Tom McMohan, EPSN - 16 (Last Week: 16)
I still don’t know who the Spurs are and I’m not sure they do either. Do they really even want this playoff spot? Is a painful first round exit at the hands of the Lakers worth the polite round of applause they are likely to get for continuing this ‘consecutive playoffs made’ streak for one more year?
The Spurs used to be the NBA’s version of a metronome. Year after year they were right there, right on time, exactly where you expected them. This new version —where they’re all over the map— it makes my job a lot a harder and I wish they’d cut it out.
Mickey Shipora, SL.com - 18 (Last Week: 17)
Roughly 23 years ago the Spurs were being led by the likes of Vinny Del Negro and Will Perdue as they closed out a 62-loss campaign, the worst in the franchise’s gilded history. Team leaders David Robinson and Sean Elliott were both on ice at this point, and the lone silver lining was the relatively slim chance at snagging the number-one overall pick and the rights to selecting the standout Demon Deacon, Timothy Theodore Duncan. Friends was the top show on TV, Gregg Popovich was an unproven first-year head coach, and Chet Shipora was but a glimmer in this scribe’s eye. Fast forward to today and the Spurs are doing their own Ross and Rachel-esque, “will they or won’t they”, teasing the possible end to a historic postseason run, and last week’s 1-3 record didn’t help matters. Meanwhile Chet is 6’-4” and his accelerating growth spurt is beginning to concern myself and members of our local medical community.
Holin Card-Wenninger, BCS Sports - 16 (Last Week: 13)
Everyone knew this week would test the Spurs’ playoff aspirations, but the loss to the Kings is another in a long list of games this season San Antonio would love to have back. They made up for it a bit taking one of two from the Rockets, but time is running out. They cannot afford to give up any more winnable games.
Johann Schumacher, BAN.com - 16 (Last Week: 12)
The Spurs have been openly pushing for the playoffs and their usually tight-lipped locker room was beginning to open up about the positive strides the team had made after finally taking hold of the 8th spot last week. But that was before three straight losses gave away all of that progress.
They began that stretch by sending the Kings to the free throw line a season-high 38 times, en route to a 22 point loss. It could have been worse, as the Kings were 0 for 9 on and-1 opportunities in the restricted area. The Spurs continued to struggle with fouling over their next two games, getting outscored from the charity stripe by 15 points in each. The Spurs now sitting just outside the playoff picture, and will need to win out and get a little help to squeak into a first round matchup with the Lakers.
Rant Hugs, Bleecher Report - 17 (Last Week: 16)
The Spurs are fighting it out with the Grizzlies for the final playoff spot in the west, and it’s one of those dramatic finishes where you don’t know who’s going to make it across the finish line first. One of those teams is going to stumble, fumble and bumble their way into the final playoff spot to face a red-hot Lakers squad, and I think it’s going to be Gregg Popovich and the Spurs proving that they belong.
With one more week to go, can the Spurs pull off the impossible (at least in our dreams)? Let us know in the comments.