Power Rankings – Week 5: Spurs looking for Silver Linings

Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

What to make of the end of the losing streak?

Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m glad last week is over and that it finished the way it did. It had been over twenty years since the San Antonio Spurs had an 8-game losing streak. At times, the games were hard to watch, although some of them had bright spots that we could focus on. We saw Patty Mills continue his red-hot shooting and Trey Lyles continue to gain confidence. And there were even positive stints from DeMarre Carroll and Lonnie Walker IV.

Week 5: The I-35 rivalry did not go the way we had hoped. The Spurs continued their frustrating ways of going down by double digits to the Mavericks, digging themselves out, only to falter in the end. After beating the Wizards earlier in the season, even with Davis Bertans going off on us (like we should have expected), many of us hoped to repeat with another win. But alas, no amount of offense could overcome the poor defense played and the Spurs lost in another shootout. One common theme in many of the losses was the fruitless comeback from down by double digits. In Philadelphia, the home of the biggest sport/movie underdog – Rocky – many believed the Spurs would finally pull it together. The Silver and Black looked like they might have found the rhythm and the defense they needed to finally put together a win. But after pulling themselves back into it and keeping it close, it wasn’t enough and the Spurs lost number 8. The good guys were struggling to keep it together and sometimes you just need someone to beat up on to put your head in the right place. Lucky for the Spurs, the unlucky Knicks were up next and they just narrowly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Thus ending the losing streak.

Last week: 1-3 (6-11) 117-110 @ Mavericks (loss); 138-132 @ Wizards (loss); 115-104 @ 76ers (loss); 111-104 @ Knicks

This week: Monday, 11/25 vs. Los Angeles Lakers; Wednesday, 11/27 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves; Friday, 11/29 vs. Los Angeles Clippers; Sunday, 12/1 @ Detroit Pistons

Tim MacMahon, ESPN – 19 (Last Week: 15)

The Spurs managed to snap an eight-game losing streak, the longest of the Gregg Popovich era, with a win Saturday over the Knicks. That victory certainly doesn’t alleviate concerns about San Antonio’s defense, which ranks 27th in the league with 113.1 points allowed per 100 possessions. That number rises to 115.3 in November, when the Spurs are 3-13.

Michael Shapiro, SI.com – 20 (Last Week: 19)

San Antonio is experiencing a disastrous defensive year, sitting at No. 27 in defensive rating entering Monday. A potential antidote: play Dejounte Murray and Derrick White together. The duo has logged just seven minutes together in 2019-20, while White and Bryn Forbes are minus-12.3 points per 100 possessions in 147 minutes. A lineup change could help kickstart a turnaround back to respectability.

Colin Ward-Henninger, CBS Sports – 24 (Last Week: 23)

Well, the Spurs finally found a team they could beat, taking down the Knicks on Saturday to snap an eight-game losing streak, but we’re going to need some more credible evidence that they’re out of their funk. Despite all the wailing about their penchant for mid-range jumpers, offense has not been the Spurs’ problem. They’re a top-five team in offensive efficiency, but have been sabotaged by a bottom-five defense.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com – 21 (Last Week: 20)

Madison Square Garden is a good place for an ailing team to feel better, and facing the Knicks’ 30th-ranked offense is a good way for a bad defense to have its best game (statistically) in three weeks. The Spurs almost blew a 28-point lead on Saturday, but they put an end to their longest losing streak – eight games in which they allowed more than 121 points per 100 possessions – in 23 seasons under Gregg Popovich. Though they play the Lakers and Clippers on Monday and Friday, the next three weeks, with six of their eight games at home and another (against the Suns in Mexico City) at a neutral site, could be their best (or last) chance at saving their playoff streak. They’ve staggered the minutes of DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge in two of the last three games (on Wednesday and Saturday) more than they had previously.

Grant Hughes, Bleacher Report – 20 (Last Week: 19)

In search of an offensive boost, head coach Gregg Popovich inserted Patty Mills into the starting lineup on Wednesday. It worked, as the Spurs scored a season-high 132 points. But San Antonio surrendered 138 to the Washington Wizards, which produced its seventh straight loss.

A win in New York on Saturday halted the skid at eight, San Antonio’s longest since 1996.

The Spurs have had downswings before, and the wise move (for the last 20 years or so) has been to dismiss those swoons. But we’re in uncharted territory now. San Antonio hasn’t struggled to this degree at any point in Popovich’s tenure.

If this trend doesn’t reverse—quickly and dramatically—the Spurs will have to start thinking about roster changes and building for a post-Popovich future. These are strange times.

Are you relieved the losing streak is over or already anxious that another one is on its way? Are you optimistic that the Spurs have finally seen the light at the end of the tunnel? How are you feeling right now, Pounders? Tell us in the comments.

Power Rankings – Week 5: Spurs looking for Silver Linings
Power Rankings – Week 5: Spurs looking for Silver Linings

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