The San Antonio Spurs are just one game away from finishing the regular season and heading to the playoffs for a 20th consecutive season.
Time flies when you’re winning games.
It feels like yesterday the Spurs were opening the series in Golden State against the Warriors, beating them 129-100, setting the tone for the upcoming season.
Today, it’s April 11th, and the Spurs are just one game away from finishing the regular season and heading into a first round matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies. Before the last game of the season, we take a look back at all the memorable moments from this past season.
The Spurs opened the season in Golden State to face the new-look Warriors. Despite the acquisition of Kevin Durant, the Warriors weren’t fluid on the offensive end, leading to a 129-100 win for the Spurs.
Kawhi Leonard had 35 points, five rebounds, and three assists, giving him the confidence to have the MVP caliber season he’s had thus far. If it weren’t for Russell Westbrook averaging a triple-double, Leonard would have a legitimate shot at the MVP award.
LaMarcus Aldridge chipped in 26 points and 14 rebounds, while Jonathan “Juice” Simmons contributed 20 points off the bench.
November – Nine Game Winning Streak
Spurs nation is a little rattled.
Despite starting 4-0, the Spurs lost to the Utah Jazz, beat the Jazz the following night, and lost to the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets.
The Spurs were now 5-3, and some were starting to question if the Spurs had enough “juice.”
Considering they now have 61 wins, i’d say the answer to that question was, “yes.”
The back-to-back losses against the Clippers and Rockets lit a flame under the Spurs, as they followed up those two losses with a nine game winning streak.
During the streak, they beat the Rockets, the Boston Celtics, and the Washington Wizards, improving their record to 14-3.
Overall record in November? 11-4.
December – Spurs Keep Rolling.
The weather may have been cold in December, but the Spurs were on fire.
In the entire month of December, the Spurs lost just two games, one of which came against the Clippers, suffering their second loss of the season against them.
The wins, however, came against the Rockets, Celtics, and Wizards, proving to the NBA that the Spurs elevate their play against the best teams in the league (except the Clippers).
At the end of December, the Spurs were 27-6.
So much for not having enough “juice.”
January – Bye, Pau Gasol.
The Spurs started off the month of January by suffering a double OT loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
On January 19th, Spurs center Gasol had suffered a fracture in his left hand, which sidelined him for 14 games. In his absence, Dewayne Dedmon took over at the center position, and won over Spurs fans in the process. Dedmon was playing incredible defense, at one point being one of the best rim defenders in the league.
Dedmon’s impact even garnered suspicion that Gasol had lost his starting job. While that is technically true, it’s only because Gasol elevates the bench play. In the end, Gasol has averaged more minutes per game since his return than Dedmon.
Immediately following Gasol’s injury prior to the Denver Nugget game, the Spurs took their talents into Cleveland against LeBron James and the Cavaliers, escaping with an over time victory, 118-115.
Leonard had one of his best game of the season, scoring 41 points, along with six rebounds, six assists, one steal and one block.
Spurs record after January? 37-11.
February – Gregg Popovich Makes History
The month of February began with another accomplishment for coach Popovich, as his win over the Philadelphia 76ers tied him with Jerry Sloan for most wins with one franchise.
Gregg Popovich tied Jerry Sloan's record of most career wins with one team, recording his 1,127th with the Spurs tonight
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 3, 2017
The following game against the Nuggets, Popovich got his 1,128th win with the Spurs, making him the winningest coach with one franchise in NBA history.
February was also the most brutal month of the season for the Spurs, as they had to endure the Rodeo Road Trip, which included eight straight games on the road.
Despite losing their first game of the Rodeo Road Trip in Memphis (without Leonard), the Spurs ended up 6-2 on that road trip, with the other loss coming against the New York Knicks.
On February 24th, Gasol returned to the lineup against the Clippers, scoring 17 points and bringing down 12 rebounds, helping the Spurs secure their first victory of the season against the Clippers.
Spurs record after February? 45-13.
March – More Accolades
The Spurs started another nine game winning streak, starting on February 13th against the Indiana Pacers, and ending on March 9th against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
After their March 4th victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Spurs secured a playoff berth for the 20th consecutive season, setting a new NBA record.
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) March 5, 2017
The last time the Spurs missed the playoffs, Bill Clinton was the President of the United States.
Two games later, the Spurs came back from a 28-point deficit over the Sacramento Kings to win their 50th game of the season, making it 18 consecutive seasons of 50 wins or more.
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) March 9, 2017
Unfortunately, March brought some bad news, as well.
Not only did the Thunder end the Spurs nine game winning streak, but Leonard suffered a concussion that game, resulting in him missing the following game against the Warriors.
After the game, it was announced that Aldridge had minor heart arrhythmia, and would be out indefinitely. At this point, no one knew if Aldridge would be able to come back and play this season, and the Spurs playoff hopes were beginning to diminish.
Fortunately, Leonard was able to come back after missing just one game, and Aldridge was able to return after missing just two games. The Spurs crisis was officially averted.
The Spurs ended the month by beating the Grizzlies, Knicks, Cavaliers, and Thunder, while suffering a tough home loss against the Warriors, resulting in the Spurs settling for the two seed.
Spurs record at the end of March? 58-17.
April – Health is Restored.
If there was one bright spot, it was the key victory over the Grizzlies on April 4th, resulting in the Spurs winning their 60th game of the season, making it the seventh time in franchise history the Spurs have won 60 games, including back-to-back seasons.
April hasn’t been great on paper, though, as the Spurs are 3-3 with one more game to play.
However, the Spurs are officially the number two seed in the Western Conference, and will head into a playoff matchup with the roster as healthy as it’s been all season.
Don’t worry about the shaky final stretch, because in the end, it means nothing. In 2015, the Spurs ended the season incredibly strong, but suffered a first round playoff loss to the Clippers.
In 2015, they were 9-1 in their last 10. Lost in the first round. https://t.co/GtOyJy0jey
— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) April 11, 2017
The Spurs may very well end April with a 3-4 record, but the health of Tony Parker, Danny Green, and Dejounte Murray has been restored. That, in conjunction with an MVP caliber Leonard, and an aggressive Aldridge, the Spurs are in prime position to do some damage in the playoffs.
Nevertheless, it’s been another phenomenal season, and Spurs fans should be happy.
Unfortunately, Spurs fans have been all too accustomed to regular season success, so the primary focus will, and always will be, the playoffs.
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Let the games begin.
Go Spurs Go.