Welcome to the Week in Review: a Monday feature that looks back at the week that was for the San Antonio Spurs, takes a look at the week ahead, and more. Enjoy, and any helpful feedback or suggestions to improve the content is appreciated!
Week 17: Making noise at the Trade Deadline and on the court to start the Rodeo Road Trip
Week 18: 1-1 (23-36 overall, 11th in West) — 109-120 L at Chicago Bulls, 114-106 W at Oklahoma City Thunder
It was a short week for any Spurs not named Dejounte Murray as they completed the first leg of the annual Rodeo Road Trip ahead of All Star Weekend. Both games went about how one would predict from this Spurs squad: they hung tough with a contending Bulls team, but “Fourth Quarter DeMar” showed up with 19 points in the closing period, reminding the Spurs of the biggest asset they lost when DeRozan left and that they still have work to do in replacing him as a closer.
Against a shorthanded Thunder team, the Spurs looked like the superior team they were supposed to be for the first half, putting up 73 points with some beautiful basketball. Then, in the second half they looked like the young, sometimes complacent team they are, taking their foot off the gas and playing sloppy ball to only score 41 points, but fortunately, that was enough to hold on for still relatively comfortable the win.
All Star Weekend
After that it was about All Star weekend, namely for Dejounte Murray plus a few legends. As a backup for Team Durant, Murray was his usual self, posting an efficient 17 points on 7-11 shooting, 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
Also representing the Silver and Black were members of Top 75 Anniversary Team, including Tim Duncan (5:20 mark), David Robinson (9:21) and George Gervin (13:01).
Finally, Manu Ginobili was named a finalist for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame 2022 class. (And for people who gripe about his inclusion and point to his NBA numbers, remind them this is the BASKETBALL Hall of Fame, not NBA, and Manu did more for the game on a global stage than anyone else in a time when basketball was still mostly considered an American sport.)
Congratulations to 4x @NBA Champion, 2x @NBAAllStar and Olympic Gold Medalist #22HoopClass finalist @ManuGinobli. pic.twitter.com/p6260H80fY— Basketball HOF (@Hoophall) February 18, 2022
Devin Vassell getting left out of the Rising Stars challenge was an insult, and what made it even worse was he wasn’t even considered as an injury reserve! (Granted, it was the rookie team that needed a replacement, but still...) A case could also be made that either Doug McDermott or Keldon Johnson should be have been representing in the three-point contest, but the Spurs have always been underrepresented there — it took a viral social media push from Luke Bonner to get Matt there — so there’s less hard feelings in that regard.
Perhaps the hardest snub to accept is not having either Manu or Tony Parker on the Top 75 Anniversary Team. Manu’s unselfishness as a sixth man plus the fact that he joined the league at a later age — and therefore his overall stats don’t jump off the page — makes it somewhat understandable, but it’s harder to make a point against Tony.
When just looking at modern players, are all of Kawhi Leonard, Carmelo Anthony, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook and even Giannis Antetokounmpo that much more deserving than Parker at the current stages of their careers? Sure, there’s a few regular season MVPs in there, and all are/were more prolific scorers at their peaks, but at least a few of those guys feel as if if they’re being projected to be top 75 by the end of their careers. Maybe they will be, but they aren’t there yet. (If that’s the case, then they should make make the top 100 in 25 years but not be included in the Top 75.)
Play of the Week
Defense at the All Star game? You’re breaking the rules, DJ.
you knew DJ was going to play defense pic.twitter.com/ICOKdi0rPG— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) February 21, 2022
John Schuhmann, NBA.com — 19 (Last week: 19)
Pace: 100.3 (4) OffRtg: 111.0 (15) DefRtg: 110.6 (18) NetRtg: +0.4 (16)
As we come out of the break, Gregg Popovich (1,333) is two wins from tying Don Nelson (1,335) atop the all-time wins list for coaches, the Spurs are two games behind the Blazers for the final Play-In spot in the West, and they still have three games left on their annual rodeo trip. They’re 3-2 on the trip thus far, with six Spurs having averaged double-figures over the five games. The Spurs’ new starting lineup (with Devin Vassell) has outscored their opponents by almost 27 points per 100 possessions in its 56 minutes since the Derrick White trade.
The Spurs have six games remaining against the three teams – Portland, New Orleans and Sacramento – they’re fighting for that final Play-In spot, and that includes three meetings with the 10th-place Blazers. But their post-break schedule begins with two of their five remaining games against the Eastern Conference. They’re currently just 9-16 (3-11 since Jan. 1) against the East.
Three numbers to know…
1. The Spurs’ assist/turnover ratio of 2.23 would be the highest mark in the 45 seasons for which turnovers have been counted, topping the mark of the 1991-92 Bulls (2.16).
2. The Spurs’ free throw rate (20.0 attempts per 100 shots from the field) would be the fourth lowest in NBA history.
3. The Spurs have outscored their opponents by eight points this season. Their .390 winning percentage would be the worst in NBA history for a team with a positive point differential. They’re 8-18 (only the Pacers have been worse) in games that were within five points in the last five minutes and they’re the only team without a win (they’re 0-28) when trailing after the third quarter.
ESPN Staff — 22 (Last week: 23)
San Antonio is in the middle of the annual rodeo road trip and finished the first portion of it 3-2, spending five games away from the AT&T Center. After the break, they’ll have three more road games before returning home on March 3 against Sacramento — almost a full month since their last home game on Feb. 4. After one more game on the road on March 5, the Spurs have a seven-game homestand, where they could make up some ground in the race for the play-in tournament. — Andrew Lopez
Coming up: Fri. 2/25 at Washington Wizards (27-31), Sat. 2/26 at Miami Heat (38-21)
The Spurs get another four days off before returning to the court to start the final stretch of the season, continuing the Rodeo Road Trip with an East Coast SEGABABA. The Wizards currently sit at 11th in the East, fighting to make the postseason after acquiring Kristaps Porzingis at the trade deadline. The next night will be a rematch with the top team in the East, who just so happen to recently blew the Spurs out in San Antonio.
Prediction: 1-1 — Even though Porzingis was a matchup problem for the Spurs in Dallas, he doesn’t currently have anyone to help take away some of the defense’s attention in Washington now that Bradley Beal is out for the season with wrist surgery. Meanwhile, the last matchup didn’t inspire much reason to believe the Spurs can beat the Heat on the road, but you never know!