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The Spurs are moving up while standing still

Although they’ve stayed in the same seed, the Spurs status in the West has actually improved since they stopped playing.

Denver Nuggets v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

The San Antonio Spurs haven’t played a game since Sunday, when they beat the Charlotte Hornets on the second game of the Rodeo Road Trip for their second win in a row and seventh in ten games. They sat at 16-11 and 6th in the West at the time — just one spot above the play-in tournament level (which is for the 7th-10th seed) — and they still do, but interestingly enough the cushioning in the standings behind them has improved despite them standing still.

February 2021 NBA Standings by day,

By the time all games were completed on Sunday, the Spurs were sitting in 6th place, but the Denver Nuggets in particular were nipping at that their heals at 15-11, and the Spurs’ absence should have presented an opportunity for them to gain some ground in the standings, especially coming off a win against the Lakers. However, they failed to take advantage thanks to two road losses in Boston and Washington DC since then, and as a result have fallen back to the 8th seed at 15-13, giving the Spurs even more cushion above the fray.

Assuming the Spurs return to their winning ways whenever they take the court again, the Memphis Grizzlies will be the team behind them to keep an immediate eye on. Although they have only gone 2-6 against non-Spurs opponents during their last ten games and currently sit at 12-12 — well behind other teams in terms of total games played due to their own series of postponements from a COVID-19 outbreak — they are the closest in the loss column, own the series tie-breaker, and could gain steam once Jaren Jackson Jr. returns (currently expected after the March break).

Of course, the other side of not playing that hasn’t helped the Spurs is keeping up with the teams ahead of them, namely the Phoenix Suns and Portland Trail Blazers, both of whom have only 10 losses and have added to the win column since the Spurs went idle: not ideal if there ends up being an uneven number of games played (which played a role in the Spurs inability to make a complete comeback in the Bubble). Assuming the top three teams in the West remain the same (Utah Jazz, Lakers and Clippers,), getting at least the 5th seed would provide the best chance at advancing to the second round of the playoffs.

Hopefully the Spurs will get to make up their lost games, especially considering most if not all of the five games they have or will miss so far (all road games in New Orleans, Detroit, Cleveland, New York and Indiana) should be winnable, especially considering their winning ways on the road.

NBA Standings 2/19/21

Missing any games at all, especially due to a COVID outbreak within the team, is far from ideal, and not just from a basketball standpoint. Hopefully everyone will get will soon, and the Spurs can return to playing basketball. It is their livelihood and what makes them the most happy, win or lose. After such a hard week for both the quarantining Spurs and freezing fans, I think everyone would love to just see some ball being played again.

The Spurs next scheduled game is the finale of the Rodeo Road Trip in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, Feb. 24, followed by four straight home games before the All Star Break. Hopefully they will be well enough to take the court by then.