The Spurs Still in Prime Position to Win the West.

Mar 13, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) reacts after scoring and drawing a foul against the Atlanta Hawks during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 13, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) reacts after scoring and drawing a foul against the Atlanta Hawks during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite a tough home loss last night against the Portland TrailBlazers, the San Antonio Spurs are still in prime position to steal the number one seed from the Golden State Warriors.

The Spurs are so consistently good, every time they suffer a loss, you sit back and wonder, are the Spurs going to be ok?  The answer is undoubtedly, yes.

On a night where Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum took over the second half, the Spurs were unable to mount a late comeback and defeat the Blazers. Instead, they suffered a loss, pushing the deficit back to 1.0 game behind the Warriors.

Lillard finished with 36 points on 12/22 shooting, along with three rebounds, four assists, and two steals. McCollum poured in 26 points on 50% shooting, including four rebounds and four assists.

For the Spurs, Kawhi Leonard had 34 points on 12/21 shooting, with nine rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks. Whenever Leonard has that type of efficient production, the Spurs usually come out victorious.

Kawhi had 34 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks.

9 times out of 10, that stat line gets you a victory. #InKawhiWeTrust

— Air Alamo (@AirAlamo) March 16, 2017

Ultimately, the Blazers showed more effort and intensity down the stretch. By the time the Spurs tried to mount a comeback, it was too little, too late.

Most people are focused on the loss, and how it pushes the Spurs back in the standings.

While that is true, fans are overlooking the more important aspect: Health.

LaMarcus Aldridge is Back!

Aldridge was cleared of all testing, and played in the game last night against his former team, the Blazers. He finished with 19 points on 9/24 shooting, including seven rebounds and four assists.

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Yes, Aldridge was rusty, causing him to have an off-shooting night. However, a couple of days ago, fans were worried that Aldridge may be forced to sit the remainder of the season.

So, in actuality, a shooting slump isn’t much to be worried about.

To fans outside of San Antonio, Aldridge isn’t the same player he used to be, and the chances of victory don’t significantly increase with him in the lineup.

To fans in San Antonio, they know that to be untrue. Is Aldridge the same player he was in Portland? No, because when he joined the Spurs, he knew his offensive game would take a hit.

When you suit up in a Spurs uniform, you are willingly tossing your ego to the side, and doing whatever it takes for the team to achieve the highest form of success – a championship.

"It felt good to be back out there," said LaMarcus Aldridge. Said he was disappointed the team didn't get the win though.

— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) March 16, 2017

Just because Aldridge isn’t the same player he once was, doesn’t mean he isn’t a vital piece to the Spurs puzzle. Aldridge’s presence on the floor makes all the Spurs bigs better.

When Aldridge starts, he starts alongside defensive big-man Dewayne Dedmon. If Aldridge is playing, Dedmon can solely focus on rebounding and defending the paint, which plays to his strengths. When they come off the court, Pau Gasol and David Lee can play together, forming arguably the best PF-C bench combo in the NBA.

During the season, the Spurs can get away with winning without Aldridge. Come playoff time, when the defense tightens up, Aldridge will be a essential piece to the Spurs championship aspirations.

Tony Parker

While much attention has been given to Aldridge and his ailments, no one has focused on Tony Parker and his current back injury.

It’s unclear whether his injury has been lingering, or Gregg Popovich has decided to take it really slow with Parker’s return to the court. Realistically, it’s probably a combination of both.

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Regardless, the Spurs are winning games while in the midst of rehab-ing Parker back to full health. Parker may not have contributed much this season, but his presence in the playoffs makes the Spurs a much better offensive team.

When he’s on the court, Parker still has a canny ability to get his teammates involved, or pull up for a mid-range jumper that he hits in his sleep. Additionally, this relegates Patty Mills back to the bench, where he is most effective playing with those guys I mentioned above (Lee and Gasol).

With the Warriors, they need their full starting lineup to be most effective. With the Spurs, they need their full roster, since their strength is in their depth. Without Aldridge and Parker, their depth (and starting unit) was taking a big hit.

Parker is slated to make his return Saturday against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Full Squad

If the Spurs get Parker back on Saturday, they will virtually be back to full health, with the exception of Dejounte Murray.

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  • The stars are aligning at the perfect time, as the Spurs are returning to full health just as they prepare to play the final 15 games of the season.

    The Warriors will host the Orlando Magic, which will probably result in Golden State extending their lead to 1.5 games in the West.

    Despite their deficit, I still believe the Spurs will overtake the first seed in the West.

    First off, the Spurs just got Leonard and Aldridge back from injury, and expect Parker back on Saturday when they play the Grizzlies. The Warriors, on other hand, are expected to be without Kevin Durant until the end of March, at the very least.

    Secondly, the Spurs and Warriors have one more game this season, and it comes at the AT&T Center. The Warriors will play the Spurs on the second night of a back-to-back. Their first night? Against the Rockets in Houston.

    As long as the Spurs retain their health, they will end up over-taking the top spot in the Western Conference, significantly easing their road to the Western Conference Finals.

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    They begin that journey Saturday night, as they visit their division-rival, the Grizzlies.