It was a whirlwind of a week both on and off the court for the San Antonio Spurs. Beginning a nine-game homestand, they disappointed on the court and initially at the trade deadline by not being able to deal LaMarcus Aldridge before buying him out. They still made a deadline deal for the first time in seven years, but it turned out to be just a cash dump as they acquired an injured Marquese Chriss, who was waived soon after. However, they grabbed a solid and much needed backup center off the waivers in Gorgui Dieng, who chose the Spurs over a multitude of suitors. Hopefully now that the roster is shored up, the Spurs can take advantage of a slightly friendlier schedule this week and get back on track.
Week 14: The Spurs opened their nine-game homestand in disappointing fashion with a loss to the short-handed Charlotte Hornets, who had just lost Rookie of the Year candidate LaMelo Ball for the season. Gregg Popovich chalked it up to the quirks of returning home from a long road trip, but it ended up not being a one-game fluke.
Facing Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the Clippers in a back-to-back miniseries meant a loss (or two) wouldn’t be surprising, but the Spurs still managed to disappoint. They got completely blown out in Game 1, and then they were unable to take advantage of Leonard resting in Game 2, blowing a second half lead for the loss — part of which came down to a very un-Popovichian decision to play just an eight-man rotation on a SEGABABA, while the fresher Clippers bench took advantage of the tired Spurs.
They finally bounced back for a much needed win against the new-look Chicago Bulls to end a season-high four-game slide, and now they will hope to use the rediscovery of their offense to finish off the remainder of the homestand on a high note. That should be very doable considering the schedule, which begins tonight with a miniseries against the Kings — and granted the Spurs have yet to sweep one of those — followed by the Hawks and Pacers this week, and ending with the Cavaliers next week.
This is their best opportunity yet to rip off a six-game winning streak — and it would be their first of four or more straight wins in two seasons — but that starts with consistency at both ends of the court and actually giving their best effort at home: something they have struggled with this season as they are just 11-13 at the AT&T Center. The schedule doesn’t get any easier than this the rest of the way, so now is the time to take advantage.
Last Week: 1-3 (23-20, 7th in West) — 97-100 vs. Hornets (loss), 101-134 vs. Clippers (loss), 85-98 vs. Clippers (loss), 120-104 vs. Bulls (win)
Andrew Lopez, ESPN: 11 (Last Week: 12)
San Antonio’s new starting lineup of Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl has been a net positive so far this season in 10 games over 129 minutes. While the team is 6-4 in those starts, San Antonio has a plus-1.4 net rating with that group. In 16 games this season, the Spurs’ most-started lineup of DeRozan, Murray, Johnson, Lonnie Walker IV and the recently departed LaMarcus Aldridge was a minus-12.5 in 219 minutes. — Lopez
Key additions: Gorgui Dieng
Key departures: LaMarcus Aldridge, Marquese Chriss (traded for, waived)
Colin Ward-Hennginer, CBS Sports: 13 (Last Week: 11)
The Spurs made a deadline-day trade for the first time in seven years, but it wasn’t exactly an eye-popper. In fact, Marquese Chriss, the player they traded for, was waived three days later. On the court, the Spurs have run into a rough patch, going 1-3 this week with their lone win coming over the new-look Bulls on Saturday. San Antonio struggled offensively this week, mustering just 103.9 points per 100 possessions, but Derrick White has been a bright spot after missing most of the early season due to injury. He averaged 15.3 points on 42 percent 3-point shooting this week.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: 12 (Last Week: 12)
Even with LaMarcus Aldridge gone, the Spurs don’t lack for mid-range shooters. DeMar DeRozan and Dejounte Murray are two of the 16 players who’ve taken at least 100 shots from outside the paint with more of those shots having come from inside the arc than from beyond. And with Keldon Johnson basically attacking the basket every time he touches the ball, the Spurs (who’ve seen the league’s sixth biggest drop in points scored per 100 possessions from last season) need somebody to shoot some 3s.
Patty Mills has always been that guy off the bench, and now Derrick White is that guy in the starting lineup. Among 210 players with at least 200 field goal attempts in each of the last seasons, White has seen the eighth biggest jump in the percentage of his shots (from 39% to 54%) that have come from 3-point range. (Lonnie Walker IV, who started prior to White’s return to health, has seen the fifth biggest jump.) White has accounted for 38% of the Spurs’ 3-point attempts while he’s been on the floor, a rate which ranks sixth (right behind that of Mills) among 351 players who’ve played at least 300 minutes.
With DeRozan and Murray shooting 15-for-46 (33%) from mid-range and nobody other than DeRozan getting to the line, the Spurs’ four-game losing streak was their worst stretch of offense (101.5 points scored per 100 possessions) since early January. But they broke out against the Bulls on Saturday with White (4-for-10, tying his career high for attempts) and Mills (4-for-9) combining for eight of their 10 3-pointers.
Mo Dahkil, Bleacher Report: 15 (Last Week: 11)
San Antonio has struggled, losing four in a row before beating Chicago to close the week. The Spurs offense has fallen off a cliff during this run. They are averaging just 103.2 points in their last five games. They lost their miniseries with the Clippers by an average of 22 points and are falling in the standings.
DeMar DeRozan did all he could last week, averaging 21.8 points and 4.3 assists, but he needs help. Dejounte Murray shot 41.8 percent from the field during this run, and Lonnie Walker IV missed the last three games with a wrist injury. Derrick White has struggled with his three-point shot, shooting 33.3 percent on the season.
The schedule does not do the Spurs any favors. After having several games postponed, they will have to make up for it on the back end. Next week, they will have four games in six days.
Kevin O’Connor, The Ringer: N/A