Welcome to the Week in Review: a new Monday feature that will look back at the week that was for the San Antonio Spurs, see what others are saying, take a look at the week ahead, plus more. Enjoy, and any helpful feedback or suggestions to improve the content is appreciated!
Week 9: The Spurs continue to confound with bizarre results.
Week 10: (3-0, 14-18 overall, 10th in West): 116-92 W @ Los Angeles Clippers; 138-110 W @ Los Angeles Lakers; 144-109 W vs. Detroit Pistons
After struggling with consistency for a few weeks, the Spurs finally found a winning formula again this week. It’s a pretty simple yet effective concept: score more points than your opponent. Better yet, score so much that they have no hope by the fourth quarter, and that’s exactly what they did to all three of their opponents this week regardless of their status or current state.
The Spurs began the week coming off a letdown loss against a shorthanded Sacramento Kings team by doing what they had been doing for a couple of weeks: respond by beating a better team. The very next night they defeated a Clippers team that had just gotten Paul George back from injury. The Spurs had their foot on the gas from the outlet, outscoring the Clippers by 27 points in the first three quarters and never letting up. Dejounte Murray got his sixth triple-double of the season, while Jakob Poeltl and Keldon Johnson each got double-doubles.
The Spurs’ next task was to end another trend: eight straight games of alternating wins and losses. Maybe it was because, despite being on a losing streak, the Lakers have a better record and some star power on their roster, but the Spurs finally won consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 4 on the back of another blowout performance. Once again, the Spurs maintained a double-digit lead nearly throughout before blowing LeBron James and company out in the fourth quarter behind a career night from Keita Bates-Diop.
Finally, even after losing Murray to Health and Safety Protocols, the Spurs didn’t skip a beat, using a team effort to continue the offensive onslaught and blow out a depleted Pistons team at home — breaking another streak of disappointing losses against inferior competition along the way.
Stat of the Week: plus-87 point differential
If it’s not already clear how badly the Spurs outscored their opponents this week, they won by a total of 87 points for an average of 29 points per game. That moves the Spurs up to an overall point-differential of 2.0 for the season, which is actually fifth best in the Western Conference. Although they currently sit in the 10th seed, only the top five seeds have a positive point-differential and winning record, so there is plenty of room for the Spurs to keep moving up the standings.
In case you missed it
Manu Ginobili and Becky Hammon named candidates for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame
Why the Spurs are likely better than their record suggests
What to expect from the Spurs’ next 10 games
Visually representing the Spurs first 30 games
Jock Landale could be the answer to the Spurs’ backup center conundrum
What they’re saying
John Schuhmann, NBA.com — 22 (Last week: 23)
Pace: 100.4 (5) OffRtg: 111.0 (6) DefRtg:108.9 (16) NetRtg: +2.1 (10)
The Spurs are still four games under .500, but they’re in Play-In Tournament position and, among the teams below the top four in the West, they’re playing the best. Since Thanksgiving, they’re 10-5, with the league’s third-ranked offense. That stretch includes wins against the Warriors and Jazz (both on the road), and the Spurs have led each of their last three games by at least 28 points.
Seven different Spurs have averaged double-figure scoring over the 15-game stretch, and that doesn’t include Keita Bates-Diop, who dropped 30 on the Lakers on Thursday, when San Antonio was a plus-39 from 3-point range. Dejounte Murray was lost to Health and Safety Protocols on Sunday, and the Spurs scored 144 points on 111 possessions in a win over Detroit, recording a season-high 39 assists without their assist leader. Keldon Johnson has shot a league-best 55% from 3-point range in December.
When the Spurs were 4-13, it didn’t seem like coach Gregg Popovich had much of a chance at passing Don Nelson for the most career wins this season. But now, he’s just 12 victories away. And if you were to use the Spurs’ point differential to project their record over the remainder of the season, they’d finish 43-39 and in sixth place in the West.
The Spurs played three of their 15 road games against the East in the first 18 days of the season, but haven’t played one since. Their longest (concurrent) road trip of the season begins Friday in Memphis, but will then go through six East cities/boroughs, including all of the the Atlantic Division. It includes three back-to-backs.
ESPN Staff — 22 (Last week: 25)
San Antonio is fourth at preventing opponent’s free throw attempts but is also near the bottom in the league in getting to the line. Derrick White and Keldon Johnson are San Antonio’s only two players averaging at least three free throws a game. A few more trips to the line would go a long way in helping the Spurs attempt to get back to the playoffs after missing the past two seasons (after making 22 in a row). — Andrew Lopez
Coming up: Mon. Dec. 27 vs. Utah Jazz; Wed. Dec. 29 vs. Miami Heat; Fri. Dec. 31 @ Memphis Grizzlies; Sat. Jan. 1 @ Detroit Pistons
The Spurs have a tough road ahead without Murray, beginning tonight with a Jazz team that will be out for revenge. Donovan Mitchell won’t make the trip with a back strain, but no one is looking forward to seeing San Antonio’s favorite son/Spurs killer Jordan Clarkson. Next, the Spurs’ three-game homestand will conclude with the Heat before starting a SEVEN-game road trip (and it’s not the Rodeo Road Trip) against Ja Morant and the rising Grizzlies and concluding the FIGASENI week in Detroit.