These last few games of the regular season for the San Antonio Spurs have been one of the toughest in the league. The Spurs played a hot Utah Jazz team - twice - and then a Sacramento Kings team also fighting to get into the playoffs, followed the next night by a strong Portland Trail Blazers. And next week will be harder with two back to backs and 5 games in 7 nights.
Week 20: The first two games of this week were against the shorthanded Utah Jazz but that didn’t stop the Jazz, either night. While in the first game the defense played by the Spurs kept the Jazz within shooting distance, the offensive droughts - especially from the 3 point line - meant the Spurs were never able to overcome the difference. The second game was a different, more painful, story. None of the regular scorers seemed to be able to get going (DeMar DeRozan and Dejounte Murray had 6 and 7 points respectively). The only bright spots in the rout were the garbage time minutes and strong performances of Devin Vassell, Drew Eubanks, Luka Šamanić, and Tre Jones (who all scored in the double digits).
The Silver and Black then headed to Sacramento to face the Kings who are fighting to get into the play-in tournament. Even though it wasn’t a stellar game, the Spurs were able to weather the Kings’ runs and pull out the win. DeRozan and Murray returned to their scoring form (getting 25 and 22 points each) and all the starters plus Rudy Gay turned in double digit points. Jakob Poeltl also got a double double (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Lonnie Walker IV muscled the Spurs into the win during the 4th. But the three point shooting woes were still a problem for the Spurs who only hit 18% from the arc.
A short trip up the coast to Portland for a SEGABABA game against the Trail Blazers had the tired Spurs playing the “tired” Blazers (who had beaten the Lakers the night before). But the home team didn’t play like they were tired because they outscored, outrebounded and outhustled the Spurs in a rout. Walker continued his strong performance from the Kings’ game, but lack of rebounding and 3 point shots proved too much to overcome for the Spurs.
Last Week: 1-3 (32-35, 10th in West) — 110-99 @ Jazz (loss); 126-94 @ Jazz (loss); 113-104 vs Kings; 102-124 @ Trail Blazers (loss)
Andrew Lopez, ESPN: 19 (Last week: 19)
The Spurs have lost six of their past seven games, and their final five don’t get any easier. They have a home outing against Milwaukee and a trip to take on Brooklyn and New York, before returning home for two games to close out the season against the Suns, who are fighting for the top seed in the West. San Antonio trails Memphis by two games in the fight for the ninth seed and are 2.5 games back of Golden State for eighth, while maintaining a 1.5-game lead on the Pelicans for the 10th and final spot in the play-in tournament.
Colin Ward-Henninger, CBS Sports: 18 (Last week: 17)
The Spurs lost three of four games this week, leaving the door open for the Pelicans or Kings to sneak into the No. 10 spot. It’s still highly unlikely for San Antonio to miss out on the postseason, but it has has dropped six of its last seven games, with the Bucks, Nets, Knicks and Suns (twice) on tap for the final week. DeMar DeRozan led the way with 18.3 points per game this week during a significant offensive drought for the Spurs.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: 18 (Last week: 17)
The Spurs are limping to the finish line. They’ve lost six of their last seven games, having been outscored by 15 points per game from 3-point range over that stretch. The drop-off from Patty Mills — 39.6% from 3-point range through March, 29.3% since April 1 — has been equally remarkable and damaging, given the lack of 3-point shooting elsewhere on the roster (especially with Derrick White out). Last season produced the end of the Spurs’ 22-year playoff streak and their first bottom-10 defense since they drafted Tim Duncan in 1997. This season could produce their first bottom-10 offense since the Duncan draft, and the guy who leads the Spurs in both scoring and assists (DeMar DeRozan) is a free agent.
The Spurs did win the most important game of the last seven, holding off the 12th-place and shorthanded Kings on Friday, thanks in part to three big buckets from Lonnie Walker IV in the final IV minutes. They hold the tiebreakers over both Sacramento and 11th-place New Orleans, but the Week 21 slate is a doozy. The Spurs are 11-25 (with seven straight losses) against the 16 teams that are currently over .500, though their last win against that group (April 17) was over the team (Phoenix) they play twice this week.
Mo Dakhil, Bleacher Report: 19 (Last Week: 19)
With a win over the Kings, the Spurs were able to put an end to their five-game losing streak. Sitting in the last spot for the play-in tournament, San Antonio has to find a way to pick up at least a couple more wins to secure its spot in the postseason.
Unfortunately, the Spurs schedule is not going to be easy at all. The last week of the season for San Antonio will be five games in seven days against all playoff-bound teams. The hope must be that those teams will all be resting players if their seeding is locked up.
On the court, San Antonio has not been able to connect from three. It shot 25.4 percent from three last week and scored just 102 points. The team may back its way into the postseason, but it will be a very short trip if it cannot get back on track from deep.
Kevin O’Connor, The Ringer: NA (Previous Ranking: 18)
That’s it - the final week of the regular season is coming up. Will it be enough for the Spurs to make the play-in tournament for a chance to make the playoffs? Let us know what you think in the comments.