Week 19: The Spurs schedule has been brutal and with the last couple of weeks in this season, most of the games are on the road (which may be a good thing with their road record being better than home record). The first game this week against the Washington Wizards was an offensive showdown that had an exciting overtime win. The one major down side was losing Derrick White to a season ending ankle injury. DeMar DeRozan and Dejounte Murray both got double doubles (DeRozan 37 pts, 10 assists, Murray 25 pts 17 rebounds).
The next two games against the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics were disappointing losses due to the fact that both games were winnable until the Spurs “dropped the ball” in the second halves. In the Heat game, the 1st and 3rd quarter were the weak periods for the Silver and Black and they couldn’t seem to make up the difference or contain the Heat in the other two quarters. The Celtics game on Friday night was the hardest loss this season. In the first half the Spurs were up by 32 at one point. The second half the good guys disappeared. The Spurs were able to tie it up to get an overtime, but they just couldn’t hold back Jayson Tatum (who scored 60).
Sunday’s game brought the Spurs home for one game against the Philadelphia 76ers. Unlike the previous meeting of these two teams, the Sixers had all of their major players and the Spurs were missing DeMar DeRozan (rest), Dejounte Murray (knee soreness) and Jakob Poeltl (rest) (as well as the aforementioned Derrick White). For most of the game, the Silver and Black kept the game close enough to catch up and in the 4th quarter, they did (behind Lonnie Walker IV’s great performance and Gorgui Deng’s surprising play). The match saw several monster dunks from Drew Eubanks, Lonnie Walker IV, and Luka Šamanić. The end of regulation comeback led to another overtime that went back and forth, until a Ben Simmon’s putback ended the game.
Last Week: 3-1 (31-32, 10th in West) — 146-143 @ Wizards; 116-111 @ Heat (loss); 143-140 @ Celtics (loss); 113-111 vs 76ers (loss)
Andrew Lopez, ESPN: 19 (Last week: 18)
With nine games remaining, San Antonio will continue to jockey for position in the West play-in race. It’ll take a lot of work for the Spurs to catch the Trail Blazers (or the Mavericks or Lakers) at No. 7, so the race for the No. 8 spot is on. San Antonio will have to move forward without Derrick White, whom the team doesn’t expect back this season because of a sprained right ankle.
Colin Ward-Henninger, CBS Sports: 17 (Last week: 17)
The Spurs had a flair for the dramatic this week, playing three overtime games but winning just one of them. They also saw a 32-point lead evaporate as Jayson Tatum dropped 60 against them in a rough loss to Boston. The Spurs are 2.5 games up on the Pelicans for the final Western Conference playoff spot, and just one game behind Memphis for the No. 8 seed.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: 17 (Last week: 17)
When you’re playing 22 games (with seven back-to-backs) over the final 36 days of the season, it would be good to get some comfortable wins (or at least some comfortable losses) to keep guys as fresh as possible. The Spurs did have a 32-point lead in Boston on Friday, and prior to that, teams were 226-1 this season after leading by 25 points or more.
Alas, that 32-point lead turned into a brutal defeat, each of the Spurs’ last five games have been within five points in the last five minutes, and three of the five have gone to overtime. Their OT win in Washington on Monday came with an injury to Derrick White and they’ve lost the last three, committing some brutal turnovers down the stretch against Boston and Philly over the weekend. The Spurs have now lost 10 of their last 13 games that were within five in the last five, having allowed 192 points on 162 clutch possessions (119 per 100) over that stretch.
The bright side is that the Spurs have been competitive against good teams, even with starters resting. White’s injury has provided an opportunity for Lonnie Walker IV, who has averaged 21.6 points on 54% shooting over the last three games. The Spurs still have control of the final Play-In spot in the West and the two teams they’re fighting with play each other three times in the last two weeks (so they can’t both finish strong).
Mo Dakhil, Bleacher Report: 19 (Last Week: 19)
San Antonio continues to truck along with its incredibly tough schedule to end the season. All four of the Spurs’ games last week came down to the wire. They stopped the Wizards’ win streak in an overtime shootout 146-143, then lost to the Heat by five.
The worst of it may have been giving up a 32-point lead against Boston to fall in overtime. After all that San Antonio returned home only to lose to the Sixers on a last-second tip in overtime. They lost their games last week by a combined 10 points.
The Spurs got unbelievable offensive output from DeMar DeRozan (29.0), Dejounte Murray (23.7), Keldon Johnson (17), Rudy Gay (16) and Lonnie Walker IV (16.3) but it was not enough to keep them from going 1-3.
In the standings, they are a game behind the Grizzlies for the eighth spot in the play-in tournament but in reality, they are two games behind them, having lost the season series. The Spurs will have their work cut out for them to catch them with eight of their last nine games against teams all about .500.
Kevin O’Connor, The Ringer: NA (Previous Ranking: 18)
Can the Spurs win enough in the last two weeks to stay in the running? Pounders, how do you feel about those winnable losses? The analysts kept the Spurs pretty much in the same place as last week. Are they right? Let us know in the comments.