If I’m being honest, I did not expect the Spurs to be this close to the play-in game when this bubble experiment started. I wasn’t even sure there were going to be any games played. But here we are.
It seems like forever ago when the Spurs opened up their bubble schedule with a 129-120 victory over the Sacramento Kings. Way back when DeMar DeRozan first unveiled his 4th quarter dominance scoring 17 of his 27 points in the final frame. And Derrick White matched his career high with 26 points and took 5 charges.
Then they survived a nail-biter versus the Memphis Grizzlies, winning 108-106 on two DeRozan free throws with 1 second remaining on the clock.
More importantly they came off of those two games with a 3 game winning streak. First they beat the undermanned Utah Jazz. Then they showed the New Orleans Pelicans what a real NBA franchise looks like. Finally they torched the Rockets in a game Houston was never in.
Now here we are. One game remaining.
Working in the Spurs favor is that their opponent for this game, the Utah Jazz, are firmly planted in the 6th seed and will be resting some of, if not all, their key players.
Not working in their favor is what else they need to have happen. None of the teams they need to lose look like they are playing opponents willing to beat them.
The Memphis Grizzles are playing the Milwaukee Bucks who are playing without a suspended Giannis Antetokounmpo. They have the number one seed locked up, so who knows who else they will sit. On a side note, I can’t believe Giannis headbutted a guy in a meaningless game leading up to the playoffs. Is the pressure of expectations getting to him?
The Spurs would also like it if the Phoenix Suns lost to the Dallas Mavericks. Unfortunately the Mavericks are also locked into their playoff spot at 7. I don’t think they will be playing anybody of importance as they get ready for the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs.
Lastly there are the Portland Trail Blazers and Damian Lillard. Lillard has scored 51 then 61 points in back to back games. I’m afraid to say that I don’t think the Brooklyn Nets will be the team to stop him. Plus they’re already locked in as the 7th seed in the East and will be looking forward to being swept by the Toronto Raptors.
San Antonio Spurs (32-38) vs. Utah Jazz (43-28)
August 13, 2020 | 5:30 PM CT
Watch: FSSW, TNT | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: LaMarcus Aldridge (out), Trey Lyles (out), Bryn Forbes (out)
Jazz Injuries: Bojan Bogdanovic (out), Nigel Williams-Goss (out), Rudy Gobert (out), Mike Conley (out)
Look, it’s the last game. Everybody knows what needs to happen and how to get there. There are generally very little surprises at this point in the season. We just have to let the games play out and hope for the best.
Playoffs or not, the bubble has done for the Spurs exactly what they wanted it to. Their next generation has gotten valuable experience in bigger games than they were expecting. Even if they miss the playoffs coming so close and missing should only further motivate everyone to fulfill their potential and come back even stronger next year.