Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
The final week of the regular season and the Spurs give one last push to keep the playoff streak alive.
Our “Pretend Power Rankings” series continues in service of all Spurs fans out there; created in an effort to get us all through this time.
With the historic playoff streak on the line, the Spurs started off the week needing two things – to return to form of a couple of weeks ago and some outside help.
Week 26: After last week’s disappointing performance, the Spurs needed a couple of miracles – one they would have to take part in, and one they could only watch. Let’s start with the one outside. Being one game behind the Memphis Grizzlies, the Spurs needed them to lose. Lucky for the Spurs, they did. The Grizzlies’ young core that have been playing so well didn’t have the experience for the pressure-filled push to the playoffs and began to crumble under it.
San Antonio, after beating the Rockets last week, came out firing on all cylinders on the road against the Pacers. Everyone had good games and the ball was shared by all. LaMarcus Aldridge, fresh off the drama created by an eyeballs emoji, went nuclear, shooting 18 of 20 —3 for 3 from three— and grabbed 12 rebounds. DeMar DeRozan contributed 21 points and 10 assists. The young guns joined the party. Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Lonnie Walker IV all provided some high flying highlights – White had two important blocks and a spectacular steal, Walker went Skywalker Mode again and provided an ESPN Top 10 dunk, and Murray out-hustled T.J. Warren and picked his pocket 3 times. The role players played along – Patty Mills hit 6 of 8 from distance, Bryn Forbes added 18 points, and Drew Eubanks made the most of his minutes down low. The team played well for the full 48 and pulled out an important win. In the final game of the season, the Spurs played the New Orleans Pelicans, who have previously played the villain in the Spurs playoff pushes. But not this time. LMA dominated Zion Williamson even though his hard work limited his point contribution. White started in place of Bryn Forbes and the change helped keep Brandon Ingram under control. Murray put on a display of distribution and offense. In the first half he played distributor, sharing the ball with everyone and helping them score. At the start of the 3rd quarter, the offense was stagnant and it was Murray who lit the spark with an amazing windmill dunk and then hitting 6 straight shots. In the end, the Spurs held off the Pels to pull out the win.
The icing on the cake was delivered on the ride home with the news of the Grizzlies’ loss to the Rockets (their second loss in a row). The two miracles were complete and the Spurs made in the playoffs for the 23rd year in a row.
Last week: 2-0 — 119-92 @ Pacers; 111-109 vs. Pelicans
Regular season record: (41-41)
This week: Let the PLAYOFFS begin.
Tom McMohan, EPSN – 15 (Last Week: 16)
I feel like like I’m slipping in to some sort of new dimension. My brain dips in and out of consciousness and I crave a mere 15 minutes of steady lucidity, a goal that appears to be forever out of reach. These games aren’t happening. I’m making them up. I have to be … right? I watched the games. I saw the ball go though the hoop and I recorded the scores. But there’s something . . . off. I just can’t quite put my finger on it.
The Spurs have made the playoffs again. Or did they? Here’s the thing though, they make it every single year like clockwork. So if the matrix was trying to simulate reality and lull everyone into thinking it was all normal, wouldn’t they want me to think that? Everything was trending poorly for this team until about mid March when all of a sudden their fortunes changed for no . . . good . . . reason. OUR ROBOT OVERLORDS THOUGHT I WOULDN’T NOTICE BUT I’M ON TO THEM. WAKE UP SHEEPLE!!!!!!!
Mickey Shipora, SL.com – 16 (Last Week: 18)
What’s indestructible, nearly old enough to rent a car, and capable of outpacing a young grizzly bear to the finish line? No, I don’t mean my large son, Chet Shapiro, who once chased down a bison calf in Yosemite. It’s the Spurs, whose reward for extending their postseason streak to 23 is a first-round matchup against one of the most potent 1-2 punches in recent memory in LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The Spurs have received criticism for their fixation on competing now, at times seemingly at the expense of their future, but Gregg Popovich and Co. seemed to find the right balance between veteran savvy and youthful gumption to push them in this final stretch.
Holin Card-Wenninger, BCS Sports – 13 (Last Week: 16)
Death, taxes, and the Spurs making the playoffs. They somehow got it done again, even when they made it impossible to believe for 95% of the season. Even if this season was a disappointment overall, the streak lives on, setting an NBA record for 23-straight appearances, and that’s the main takeaway.
Johann Schumacher, BAN.com – 14 (Last Week: 16)
The Spurs will be in the playoffs for a 23rd consecutive year. It’s been a tumultuous season in San Antonio which reached its nadir just over a month ago. The Spurs fell to 10 games under .500 and 5 games out of the playoff race with an overtime loss in Cleveland on March 8th. But they lost just 5 more games over the ensuing 5 weeks, dragging themselves back from the brink to sneak into the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the league. Over that 15-5 stretch, the Spurs had the 2nd best net rating in the league (+7.1) behind the strength of a top-10 offense and a top-5 defense. But even then, the team dropped both of its road games to teams in the upper half of the Western conference playoffs, bringing their season total to 0-7 on the road vs the Lakers, Clippers, Nuggets and Rockets.
Rant Hugs, Bleecher Report – 16 (Last Week: 17)
The Spurs and Pelicans were hiking in the woods, when they suddenly got in between a mama Grizzly and her cubs. Dejounte Murray (representing the Spurs) knelt down to lace up his sneakers . . . Lonzo Ball (the Pelicans) said to him, “Man, what are you doing, you can’t outrun a bear.” Dejounte replied, “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you.” As it turned out, the Spurs did in fact escape, leaving the Pelicans to play the part of Leonardo DiCaprio . . . (It’s not a perfect metaphor, but I kind of liked The Revenant.) Anyway, their reward is the eighth place spot in the Western Conference playoffs, where I expect they’ll get mauled by LeBron James and the Lakers.
So, in this exercise in imagination, the Spurs end up with a final record of 41-41. Not great, but not bad. And with the Grizzlies playing along, it means the Spurs enter their 23rd post-season in a row. Now I want everyone to keep the faith. There is always next season, and I don’t know about you, but I’m excited. Stay safe everyone!
Pretend Power Rankings: Week 26 – Will the streak continue?
Pretend Power Rankings: Week 26 – Will the streak continue?