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The Spurs have friends in high places

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The Spurs will need some help to make the play-in game. One old friend could play a role in that.

Brooklyn Nets v Milwaukee Bucks

This is how the Spurs can get into the play-in game and have a chance to keep The Streak alive, and they’ll need some help.

San Antonio Spurs | 32-38 (.457)

San Antonio gets the No. 8 seed with . . .

  • A win, combined with a Memphis loss, a Phoenix loss and a Portland loss

San Antonio gets the No. 9 seed with . . .

  • A win, plus a combined two losses from Phoenix, Portland or Memphis

Next Game: San Antonio Spurs vs. Utah Jazz | Thursday, 5:30 p.m. CT

When the Spurs play their game against the Jazz, they may already know if their game means anything or not — both Phoenix and Memphis tip off at 4 p.m. EST. Portland plays Brooklyn at 9 p.m. EST. If all three of the other play-in contenders lose, the Trail Blazers don’t even need to beat the Mavericks to get the coveted 8th seed.

It would be very good for the Spurs for Memphis to lose their game — against the Milwaukee Bucks. A Bucks win is a likely outcome if they play their full squad and make a serious effort to win. Who gets to decide if the Bucks go all-out against the Grizzlies? The Bucks coach, Mike Budenholzer.

As a reminder, Coach Bud played his college basketball at Pomona-Pitzer outside of Los Angeles, the main rival of, and across the street from, the college I coached — Claremont McKenna College — as recounted in more detail in my first piece I wrote for Pounding the Rock. Bud was an excellent player at Pomona-Pitzer, even being named Outstanding Senior Athlete.

Who recruited Bud to play at Pomona-Pitzer? The same guy who hired Bud to sit on the Spurs bench as an assistant coach for almost twenty years, including four championships. The same cranky guy still coaching the Spurs.

Carole King wrote a great song, famously and well covered by James Taylor: “You’ve Got a Friend”:

Now, ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend
When people can be so cold?
They’ll hurt you, yes, and desert you
And take your soul if you let them, oh, but don’t you let them
You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running, running, yeah, yeah, to see you again

Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there, yes, I will
You’ve got a friend
You’ve got a friend

Gregg Popovich clearly has a friend in Milwaukee. It might be time for Coach Pop to call his old friend and suggest that Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, and both Lopez twins really need to play Thursday, along with another old friend George Hill. You know, so they can all get into prime condition for the playoffs.