This is it. The final home game of the regular season. As the Spurs are looking forward into the playoffs, the Suns are looking to start the offseason.
The Spurs began the weekend with a victory in Houston against James Harden, Dwight Howard, and the Houston Rockets. The win spring-boarded San Antonio into the third-seed in the Western Conference. A big Saturday for the other Southwest Division-mates landed the Spurs back into the fifth seed. However, they are tied with the Division-leading Memphis Grizzlies with a 54-26 record, although the Grizz own the tiebreaker.
In fact, Gregg Popovich’s team is tied with both Memphis and the Los Angeles Clippers, each with tiebreakers over the Spurs.
In a Conference where slots two through six couldn’t be tighter every game counts. A win against Phoenix would send the Spurs up to the second seed in the West with only a game to play.
When you take your last 10 games, everyone becomes a fan of the Spurs. Even Eric Bledsoe and the Phoenix Suns are picking up what the Spurs are putting down. In this game, that should be a loss. The Suns are averaging less than 88 points against the Spurs this season, and have averaged 19.5 turnovers in the last two losses. The Spurs, on the other hand, are averaging 103.1 points per game with a 6.2 positive point differential. That doesn’t look good for the Suns. Las Vegas agrees. The Spurs are 16-point favorites.
What does look good is Tim Duncan and his 50.8% shooting on the season. The old-timer is looking more youthful this season than in recent history, and he is still the most consistent force on the NBA’s eighth-ranked offense.
Now to the game.
There was no Tiago Splitter in this game. Again. The calf injury that has nagged the Brazilian center all season. This injury is not insignificant. Splitter was averaging 14.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, and over a block per game.
Earlier in the day the Spurs announced that they are recalling forward Kyle Anderson from the D-league affiliate, Austin Spurs. Shockingly, Anderson has seen action in 31 games this season. Could coach Popovich be staffing up to rest his starters in the final two games?
Not the case at all. Tim Duncan added 22 points and 10 rebounds in the win, San Antonio’s 11th straight. Tony Parker saw 26 minutes of action- contributing 10 points and five assists. Finally, Kawhi Leonard played a team-high 34 minutes shooting 50%.
Marco Belinelli and his “We are Sparta” tattoo netted 13 points and otherwise moved the ball really well.
The win moves the Spurs to the second-seed in the Western Conference- as predicted. This would match them against the Dallas Mavericks should the playoffs start today. But they don’t. Memphis will play Golden State, which should earn them another loss. But it is those LA Clippers that have the advantage. They will play the hapless Denver Nuggets. Should they win, which is very likely, they will move into the second slot, pushing San Antonio aside.
Let’s go Denver!