It looks like the San Antonio Spurs are not going to make the playoffs. Yes, you heard it right. The perennial title contenders have a real shot, not at winning it all, but at missing the postseason. Despite beating the lowly Magic on Wednesday, the Spurs (38-30) are just virtually tied with the Nuggets and the Jazz for eighth spot in West as of writing. And having only won 4 of their last 15 games, the once mighty Texas franchise is barely hanging on. With only 14 games left on their regular season schedule, 12 of which against very good teams, it’s hard to bet on theSpurs making it through. So, what if they do miss the playoffs, what’s in it for us?
One, we won’t have the brilliant coaching of Gregg Popovich in the playoffs. Without his legendary mid series adjustments and legendary postgame pressers, the excitement from the sidelines definitely gets dampened. Two, we won’t witness Kawhi Leonard do his thing when it matters most. We’ve already been robbed of Leonard’s awesomeness in last year’s playoffs, no thanks to Zaza Pachulia. This time, it’ll be a shame if the NBA’s best two-way player won’t be able to see a single minute of playoff action.
Not making the playoffs could mean a rebuild for the Spurs. With the front office blowing up the roster, Spurs greats Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli might be forced to end their careers with a different team or simply retire without a memorable final run. Seeing those guys finish their tenure in San Antonio in such anti-climactic fashion is just sad.
And if you’re a Spurs lifer and the Spurs don’t make the postseason, of course you’re going to be miserable.
If you’re not riding with the Silver and Black but your favorite squad is in the West, you’ve got to be glad that the Spurs won’t be in playoffs. Coach Pop's still got Kawhi and a bunch of hard working role players, we say they've got a puncher's chance to take out any team not called the Dubs, in the postseason. Thunder and Rockets fans are probably high-fiving each other right now upon witnessing the San Antonio’s regular season demise.
In place of the Spurs, we might see either the young Jazz or Nuggets strutting their stuff in the post season. Spurs basketball could be replaced by the Jazz’s exciting play, led by Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio, with their crazy alley-oop connections. The Nuggets and their high-octane offense, starred by Nikola Jokic, could very well entertain in the playoffs too. Without the Spurs, our basketball palates might enjoy something new.
ON SHAKY LEGS
The Spurs looked great at the start of the season without an injured Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard. But eventually San Antonio’s magic well ran dry. By the time they needed their best players, Tony Parker appeared a step or two slower while Kawhi remained hurt (more on this later). Another one of the Spurs’ top dogs, LaMarcus Aldridge, wasn’t able to escape the injury bug either. LA was recently bothered by an ankle sprain and had to sit out a few games. Their fourth best player, Rudy Gay had been in and out of the rotation as well due to injuries. The Spurs haven’t really been a 100% all season long, we should've seen all these Spurs losses from a mile away.
We know the Spurs have defied father time over and over. But now, father time’s got the upper hand. The Spurs’ best players are old as time and all are susceptible to getting hurt. Get a load of this list: Ginobili (40), P. Gasol (37), Parker (35), and Aldridge (32). Among the Spurs’ main guys who are still relatively young are Kawhi (26) and Rudy Gay (31), who have been hampered by physical issues. Having so many ageing vets, the Spurs have been forced to put too much responsibility on guys who may not be ready for the big moments just yet. We're talking about the good—but still pretty green—guys like Kyle Anderson, Dave Bertans, and Dejounte Murray.
Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs aren’t exactly on good terms. Before reports of Leonard’s impending return surfaced, Coach Pop thought Kawhi would sit out the rest of the season after the latter opted not to play despite getting medical clearance on his quad injury. Kawhi’s reason? He and the Spurs apparently didn’t meet eye to eye regarding the treatment of his injury, particularly the rehab. Even if the Klaw comes back, the situation between the Spurs and their best player could still be volatile. This is a distraction that has clearly affected the Spurs’ campaign negatively.
Finally, take a look at the Spurs’ remaining 14 regular season games: vs NOP, vs MIN, vs GSW, vs WAS, vs UTA, @ MIL, @ WAS, vs OKC, vs HOU, @ LAC, @ LAL, vs POR, vs SAC, @ NOP.
All the squads, except the Lakers and the Kings, are either playing for a playoff berth or home court advantage. With the way the Spurs have been losing lately, can you honestly say that they’re capable of going above .500 in the final stretch? If you’re a realist, you would have to say no.
Now, we’re not counting the Spurs out, we just laid out some facts. We still think they have a chance to make the playoffs but for that to happen, Kawhi Leonard must play and play out of his mind. Plus, San Antonio must have their fountain of youth running again.