December 7, 2023

Week in Review: Home woes continue to mar first quarter of Spurs’ season

Week in Review: Home woes continue to mar first quarter of Spurs’ season
Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs went 0-3 on the week, including blowing two more double digit leads at home.

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!

Week 3: The Spurs suffered their first winless week of the season, going 0-4 with two massive blowout losses on the road and blowing two double-digit leads at home against should-be playoff teams.

Week 4: 0-3 (3-10, 15th in West) — 87-123 L @ Oklahoma City Thunder (In-Season Tournament); 120-129 L vs. Sacramento King (In-Season Tournament); 108-120 L vs. Memphis Grizzles

There isn’t much to say this week that wasn’t said last week, which at the time was the Spurs need to learn to protect double digits leads at home after losing four such games this season already. Well, we’re a week later, and apparently no lessons have been learned as they are now 0-6 on the season under the same scenario, including inexcusably giving up a 19-point lead to a then 2-9 Grizzlies team that was missing seven rotation players. Sure, a 24-3 advantage at the free throw line in the second half helped Memphis out, but the Spurs still allowed it to get into their heads and made poor offensive decisions that prevented them from overcoming the adversity.

That would have been their best chance to bust what had become an 8-game losing streak, but to get there, they had to get through a couple of In-Season Tournament games first. The first was at the home of the rising Oklahoma City Thunder in a game the media is trying to pass as a massive rivalry due to Victor Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren, but in reality OKC is way ahead of the Spurs in their rebuild. While the game was competitive for most of the first half, it quickly spiraled out of control and into another massive blowout loss on the road.

After a couple of days off, the Spurs were back at home with both their last chance to keep their tournament hopes alive against the Kings and to turnaround their homecourt woes, but they could not. After getting out to an 18-point lead in the first quarter, they surrendered it in a matter of minutes, and while they remained competitive throughout, the Kings pulled away late in an all-too-familiar-scene that would repeat itself a night later against Memphis.

It’s hard to know how the Spurs will break the streak at this point beyond mentally turning some of kind of corner or Gregg Popovich making some kind of change. He made a few fringe changes to the bench rotation, such as more minutes for Sandro Mamukelashvili, but it’s becoming clear that something else needs to be done to bust the trend. What that is (or if it gets done) remains to be seen.

Power Rankings

John Schuhmann, — 26 (last week: 25)

OffRtg: 106.9 (29) DefRtg: 119.8 (29) NetRtg: -12.9 (30) Pace: 102.2 (4)

It’s not about the results in San Antonio, but it would be nice if the results were better. The Spurs have lost nine (should be eight) straight games and now have three of the five worst losses (36 points or more) for any team this season.

Three takeaways

1. The other 29 teams are 163-45 (.784) in games they’ve led by double-digits, but the Spurs are 1-6 after blowing leads of 18 and 19 points against the Kings and Grizzlies last week. The last team to have a losing record over a full season in games they led by double-digits was the 2018-19 Knicks (12-16).

2. The Memphis bigs went at Victor Wembanyama on Saturday (the 20 shots he defended were a season-high) and did score through him on a couple of occasions. But he also blocked eight shots, tied for the most for any player in a game this season.

3. Wembanyama scored 27 points against the Kings on Friday, but offensive consistency has been an issue. He shot just 4-for-15 (1-for-11 outside the restricted area) in his much-hyped matchup with Chet Holmgren earlier in the week. For the season, the No. 1 pick has shot 75% in the restricted area and just 31% outside it. Those are Antetokounmpo-esque numbers, but with higher volume from the perimeter.

Last season, when they ranked 29th offensively and 30th defensively, was the first since they drafted Tim Duncan in 1997 in which the Spurs ranked in the bottom five on either end of the floor. Right now, they’re in the bottom two on both ends for the second straight season.

Having lost to the Grizzlies on Saturday, the Spurs will play three more games against teams with losing records. But those teams – the Clippers and Warriors – have a lot more (healthy) talent.

Brett Siegel, Clutch Points — 26 (last week: 24)

After going 3-2 to begin the year, the Spurs have lost eight straight games. Victor Wembanyama has been great and there is a lot to like about what the future looks like if you are a Spurs fan, but the fact of the matter here is that San Antonio just doesn’t have the talent yet to compete with the rest of the league. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though, as it simply takes time to build something special.

Take the OKC Thunder for example. The main reason why the Thunder are finding a lot of success this year is because they have struggled over the last handful of years while rebuilding. The Spurs can obviously make some improvements on both sides of the court right now, especially in terms of getting Wemby more shot attempts, but this organization just needs time to develop their high-potential youth.

Jeff Zillgitt, USA Today — 29 (last week: 30)

The future is bright with Victor Wembanyama – it’s just a long way from today with the Spurs struggles offensively (No. 29) and defensively (No. 29).

Coming up: Mon. 11/20 vs. Los Angeles Clippers; Wed. 11/22 vs. Los Angeles Clippers; Fri. 11/24 @ Golden State Warriors (In-season Tournament); Sun. 11/26 @ Denver Nuggets

Prediction: 1-3 — The Spurs have two more chances to bust their home woes in a mini-series against the star-studded but struggling Clippers before they hit the road. First, they’ll face the one team in the league that has been equally as bad as them at home in the Warriors, who will be missing Draymond Green (suspension) and possibly Steph Curry (knee), before heading to the home of the defending champions in Denver. That’s three decent chances at a win, and odds are their close to getting one, right?


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