Why the Spurs Will Surrender Their All-Time Great Playoff Streak
The year was 1996, the year of beanie babies and cassette tapes. Maybe there were some other fads that would come into style but I literally don’t know because I was yet to be born, which adds context to how long 23 years ago was. It was the last year the San Antonio Spurs failed to make the playoffs.
With a jittery 7-14 record to start the season, the possibility of this unique streak coming to an end does not seem far fetched.
The Western Conference standings bare no mercy, with 12 perennial playoff teams and only eight spots to go around, the Spurs have slipped down to the 12th best in the west.
It is no coincidence that this playoff streak runs in direct correlation with Gregg Popovich’s coaching timeline, his 24 years of calculated yet pliable coaching is the biggest contributor to their playoff consistency. If San Antonio has any hope, it will be because of the mastermind Gregg Popovich, turning his guys around.
The Spurs have started the season slow and recently dropped seven games in a row, the greatness of Gregg Popovich will be tested to turn his group of mid-range iso-scorers into the once pass-orientated golden age Spurs.
On paper, the Spurs’ depth chart appears playoff worthy, but something is not clicking in San Antonio and it is their defense. San Antonio is ranked 3rd worst in the league for defensive rating at 113.4, and so far have posted a net rating of -4.
At least their offense is clicking, right? Sitting at the eighth best in the league, although San Antonio might not move the ball like they used to, at least they are scoring. With perennial all-stars in DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, arguably two of the best midrange shooters in the league, the Spurs have no problem using DeMar’s acrobatic abilities and Aldrige’s crafty post ups to finish near the hoop. As the long season endures, one missing trait of a championship offense is glaring for the Spurs and that is shooting the three ball.
Atrocious is an understatement for DeRozan’s three point statistics, as he shot just 15% from the arch last year and just converted his first 3-point field goal of the season last night, his first in over a year. Aging Marco Bellinelli could shift to the 2 spot as DeMar moves to the three, but that does little for San Antonio defensively.
The guards of San Antonio’s starting five, DeJounte Murray and Bryn Forbes, are young and still fresh into the league. They are still learning how to win, and with all the power tandems of the western conference, may have a rocky season and be the first generation of Spurs to miss the playoffs in over two and a half decades.
The young guys on the team are underdeveloped, the superstars are underperforming, and the old veterans like Patty Mills and Marco Bellineli are aging. On top of all that, former star Rudy Gay is quietely riding the bench averaging just 11.3 points an outing.
A blow up of the roster could be apparent, and a rumored DeMar DeRozan trade does not seem far fetched. We could see the Spurs, a golden franchise of the NBA, do something they never do, which is tank and develop the young guys. The playoff streak may very well be in jeopardy and closed in the history books.
Along with the playoff streak, we could even see the coach behind it all, Gregg Popovich, retire and call it a career as the current San Antonio Spurs are far removed from the days of David Robinson and Tim Duncan.