For 22 years, from 1998-2019, the San Antonio Spurs never missed that playoffs. In that span, they made it to the NBA Finals six times, and came away with five Larry O’Brien trophies.
That streak lasted so long that the initial stars of that run Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all played and retired during the amazing two-decade stretch.
That run finally ended last year.
During the 2019-20 season, San Antonio, finally missed the NBA Playoffs. They finished 11th in the standings with a 32-39 record.
That failed campaign obviously upset Spurs fans as it was a sign that the old era was at an end, and that changes needed to be made for another serious playoff push.
After trading away Kawhi Leonard and acquiring DeMar DeRozan, fans doubted if the Spurs would be as good. Then, last season saw them hit “rock bottom”.
Heading into this season, fans were expecting for San Antonio to be one of the bottom feeders or at the very least one of the multiple teams that will be fighting for a play-in tournament spot. Things have turned out pretty differently.
Almost mid-way to the season, the Spurs are actually one of the toughest teams in the Western Conference competing for a top-four spot.
Led by DeRozan and backed up by LaMarcus Aldridge, Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson, the Spurs are currently sitting as the sixth seed with a 16-11 record. They’re two wins away from Portland, who’re sitting at the fifth seed with an 18-12 record.
The 11-year veteran DeRozan is having a great run this season with 19.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 6.9 assists on 48.8% shooting from the field. He leads the team in points and assists.
Aldridge has been productive as well with his 14.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Murray has been solid as well with his 15.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists, while Johnson is putting up 14.5 points and 7.0 rebounds a night.
San Antonio is in the top 10 in rebounding and in the top 15 in assists per game which slowly shows that the team has finally regain their bread and butter which is collective basketball.
They have all the makings of a classic Greg Popovich team this season, too. While no one is averaging over 20 points per game, there are eight players averaging double figures:
- DeMar DeRozan – 19.8
- Dejounte Murray – 15.1
- Keldon Johnson – 14.5
- LaMarcus Aldrige – 14.1
- Patty Mills – 13.2
- Derrick White – 11.8
- Rudy Gay – 11.2
- Lonnie Walker – 10.8
This is clear proof that they’re not overly reliant on a single player every night, and instead fit in a system that prioritizes sharing the ball and getting everyone their fair share of shots. Between those eight players, seven are averaging over 10 field goal attempts a game, with DeRozan leading the way with 13.4. The only person out of that grouop is Rudy Gay, who barely misses the mark with 9.9 shots hoisted per game.
The Spurs have beaten and showed that they can hang against some of the best teams this season, grabbing a win over the Lakers and Clippers back-to-back.
In their most recent win, they took care of business against LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets.
The Spurs have certainly been impressive this season and with their groove starting to amp up, there’s no telling what they could actually accomplish this year.
It’s pretty clear that Coach Pop is in the twilight of his career, which makes it even better to see him get one or two last shots at the playoffs. No one can doubt
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