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Pretend Power Rankings: Week 24 - As the season starts getting down to the wire, the Spurs get serious

With nine games left, the Spurs finally starting to make progress.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

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.

The 2019-2020 season has been a rough one, but like the saying says - “That which does not kill you makes you stronger.” The San Antonio Spurs have been up and down all season, but even in the down periods, there were glimpses of good - amazing highlights, the youngsters showing out, the vets putting the team on their back for games, etc. This week was a perfect example of things finally coming together.

Week 24: The week started on the road against the hapless, but eventually promising Sacramento Kings. This game was an exhibition of the up and coming youth movement on both teams. The good news was that the Spurs’ young guns played better. In a rare display of experimentation, Gregg Popovich decided to change up the starting rotation. Drew Eubanks, Lonnie Walker IV, Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Trey Lyles started and made the most of the opportunity. The Spurs jumped out to a huge lead in the first half with the only negative being that De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield scored in double digits. But the second half showed what kind of defense the Spurs kids are capable of - shutting down Hield completely and limiting Fox to just 5 points. Back home for the rest of the week, the Spurs came out with extra fire against the Golden State Warriors. (With the Grizzlies losing 3 out of their 4 games, the Spurs have surged ahead.) Pop decided to revert to his standard starting line up but the fire had been lit. Murray and White both had double doubles (Murray in points and assists, White in points and blocks), but DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge were the stars in this one - both going for 30 points and LMA getting 5 blocks (and getting under Draymond Green’s skin and getting him so rattled he got two very dramatic techs and was ejected).

Other than the Grizzlies, the New Orleans Pelicans are a team that could play spoiler to the Spurs’ playoff hopes. So when the Pels came to town on Sunday, the Spurs had the necessary respect. Drew Eubanks had himself an excellent game against Derrick Favors - Eubanks had 21 points (with an emphatic dunk over Favor) and 3 blocks. Speaking of displays of athleticism, Lonnie went all Skywalker on the Pelicans with two spectacular dunks, three unstoppable steals, and two much needed blocks. The Spurs slid a bit in the third quarter, but came back strong to win it out in the end.

Last week: 3-0 (38-38) — 122-90 @ Kings; 119-98 vs. Warriors; 112-110 vs. Pelicans

This week: Tuesday, 4/7 vs. Sacramento Kings; Wednesday, 4/8 @ Houston Rockets; Friday, 4/10 vs. Philadelphia 76ers; Sunday, 4/12 vs. Houston Rockets

Tom McMohan, EPSN - ?? (Last Week: 16)

I forget his name, but an intrepid reporter for the Spurs focused website, Pounding the Rock, had been keeping track of Tim Duncan’s evolving fashion sense on the sideline all year and it was one of my favorite running bits of sportswriting. Unfortunately for us, said writer mysteriously took a leave of absence to explore the Amazon rain forest in the name of science and since his departure I’ve dearly missed his regular dispatches from this mysterious land.

In his honor, I feel like I must take up the mantle and remark upon the wonderful ensemble thrown together by the Big Fundamental on Friday night. The blazer featured on some kind of cool mint menagerie and it was expertly set against a soft, supple beige slack and a cool blue mock turtleneck. It was the type of outfit dreams are made of and it was certainly one worthy to grace the news of an induction to the 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame. Congrats Timmy!

Mickey Shipora, - ?? (Last Week: 17)

Is it fair to the rest of the league that Tim Duncan is eternalized in Springfield only for his spiritual successor, Drew Eubanks, to propel the Spurs to postseason for an ungodly 23rd straight season? No. But if life was fair, my large son, Chet, wouldn’t have dunked on me in front of my ex-wife and her new husband last week.

Holin Card-Wenninger, BCS Sports - 13 (Last Week: 15)

Death, taxes and the Spurs making the playoffs is alive and well once again, but this week will put it to the test once again with two match-ups against James Harden and the Rockets, plus a visit from the 76ers. If the Spurs can win 2 of those three games (plus the one they’re supposed to against the Kings), they’ll be in good shape.

Johann Schumacher, - 12 (Last Week: 14)

The Spurs won the most important game of their season on Sunday night, holding off the Pelicans for a two point victory that won the season series between the two teams and gave the Spurs control of their own destiny with six games to go. The Spurs’ combined margin of victory over the Pelicans in their three wins this season is just eight points, a sign that the two teams are as evenly matched as their nearly identical records and point differentials would suggest.

The difference between the 2 is that the Spurs have won 12 of their last 14 games, including 5 of the 6 games that were within 5 points in the last 5 minutes. They have the league’s best point differential over that time (+12.1) thanks to a defense that allowed just 99.2 points scored per 100 possessions overall and 88.7 points scored per 100 possessions in the clutch.

Rant Hugs, Bleecher Report - 16 (Last Week: 19)

There’s this scene in Waterworld, when Kevin Costner’s character shows up, and Dennis Hopper’s character says “... you know, he’s like a t**d that won’t flush.” The Grizzlies must be feeling like that about now, because the Spurs have appeared vanquished at least a dozen times so far this season, but they keep coming back. We all know Costner will triumph in the end, and Hopper loses an eye. Ouch.

As the season starts to wind down, do you think the Spurs could have held on to the fire that they “had” this week to finish out? Let us know in the comments.