Week in Review: Spurs offense comes back to life in week of thrilling wins

Week in Review: Spurs offense comes back to life in week of thrilling wins
Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

The Spurs pulled off three straight wins against quality opponents, showing a glimpse of what this team can be in the future.

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 22: The Spurs had a couple of chances get in the winning column thanks to a rare off-shooting night from Luka Doncic and facing a skeleton crew Grizzlies team, but their offense let them down on the way to a winless week.

Week 23: 3-1 (18-57, 15th in West)

104-102 win vs. Phoenix Suns

  • Recap: Despite missing Victor Wembanyama, Jeremy Sochan’s career night helped lead the Spurs to a revenge win against the Suns after being blown out by the same team two nights before. The win secured the season series over their old rivals.
  • What we learned

118-111 win at Utah Jazz

  • Recap: After the Spurs got out to a big lead early, the Jazz used a big second-quarter run to get back in the game, but the Good Guys showed composure that was lacking early in the season by responding and keeping the opponent at arm’s length the rest of the way.
  • What we learned

130-126 OT win vs. New York Knicks

  • Recap: In one of their most thrilling victories of the season, the Spurs countered Jalen Brunson’s 61-point night with a 40-20 one from Wemby to win in overtime, earning their first three-game winning streak since December 2022. (Hilariously, Wemby also got his very first NBA fine for throwing the ball into the stands after the game.)
  • What we learned

113-117 loss vs. Golden State Warriors

  • Recap: Missing three of their top four players, the shorthanded Spurs got out to an early lead, but a slow start to the second half let the Warriors back in, and the Spurs couldn’t quite complete the comeback despite another big night from Wemby.
  • What we learned

In case you missed it

  • Victor Wembanyama’s long-distance shooting mechanics — Eric Fritts took a look at Wemby’s improving shooting mechanics, the statistical oddity of him being a better three-point shooter off the pull-up than catch-and-shoot, and what he can do to fix it.
  • Jeremy Sochan is the Spurs’ offensive wildcard — Sochan is far from a sure thing on offense, but the Spurs seem to benefit the most when he has big game compared to anyone else. They’ll need him to keep improving on that end for him to work next to Wemby long-term.
  • In the Bonus — The PtR staff discussed a variety of topics, such as why the Spurs offense has actually been better when Wemby has missed games, what they need to do to survive on defense when he sits, and if the makeup of the Spurs’ current starting lineup is a recipe for success going forward.
  • NBA Draft — Jacob Douglas broke down draft prospects to watch in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight. Also, Jesus Gomez took a look at the status of the Raptors first round pick and why it’s looking less likely it will convey to the Spurs this summer.
  • For even more things Wemby, check out Every day is Wembsday, courtesy of Mikey Rouleau.

Power Rankings

John Schuhmann, NBA.com — 23 (last week: 26)

OffRtg: 109.6 (26) DefRtg: 116.5 (22) NetRtg: -6.9 (25) Pace: 101.8 (3)

The Spurs won three straight games and played spoiler last week, beating the Suns without Victor Wembanyama and beating the Knicks behind a career-high 40 points and 20 rebounds from the Kia Rookie of the Year favorite.

Three numbers on the Spurs’ defense

1. The Spurs have seen the league’s fourth-biggest drop in points allowed per 100 possessions, though they’re still in the bottom 10 on defense because they ranked 30th last season. They’ve seen improvement in opponent effective field goal percentage, opponent free-throw rate and defensive rebounding percentage.

2. According to Second Spectrum tracking, the Spurs have switched only 9% of ball screens, the league’s lowest rate by a wide margin. Their opponents have averaged just 15.6 isolations per 100 possessions, the league’s second-lowest rate.

3. The Spurs have allowed 8.0 fewer points per 100 possessions with Victor Wembanyama on the floor (111.1) than they’ve allowed with him off the floor (119.1). That’s the second-biggest differential on defense among full-time starters (fifth biggest among all players) who’ve played at least 1,000 minutes. The difference is largely about how well (and often) the opponents have shot in the paint: 56.6% (50% of all field goal attempts) with Wembanyama on the floor and 60.3% (53%) with him off the floor.

Even with the three-game winning streak, the Spurs still need two more wins to avoid finishing with the worst record in franchise history. Five of their seven remaining games are against teams with winning records, and two of those are against the Nuggets.

Brett Siegel, Clutch Points — 25 (last week: 27)

While they may be last in the West, the San Antonio Spurs are No. 25 in this week’s edition of the NBA Power Rankings after almost pulling off a perfect 4-0 record this past week. Ultimately, the Warriors beat them 117-113 on Sunday to halt the Spurs’ three-game win streak. During this streak, they defeated the Suns and Knicks, two playoff contenders.

Victor Wembanyama continues to dazzle. The rookie phenom has scored 72 points over his last two games, and he continues to add to his All-Defensive Team campaign. There is no way that Wembanyama doesn’t win the Rookie of the Year award at this point.

Coming up: Tues. 4/2 @ Denver Nuggets; Fri. 4/5 @ New Orleans Pelicans; Sun. 4/7 vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Prediction 1-2 — That’s a tough stretch no matter how good the Spurs looked last week. The Nuggets are the defending champs and always a challenge with the altitude. New Orleans tends to be a house of horrors for the Spurs, and Zion Williamson has been unstoppable lately (not ideal if Sochan isn’t back from injury). Their best bet for a win will probably come against the 76ers at home — and even then Joel Embiid is expected to be back. Hopefully Wemby has some serious revenge on his mind…

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