A loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder puts the San Antonio Spurs closer to the outside looking in than ever.
The threat of the San Antonio Spurs not in the postseason is real. Including Saturday’s matchup vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder, there are just 17 games to fight for playoff position. A 37-28 record might not indicate this, but with the No. 9 and 10 seeds within just 4.5 games of the No. 3 seed Portland Trail Blazers, it makes for a clustered picture that will eventually be sorted out.
Despite the current No. 5 seed, San Antonio remains just 1.5 games out of the No. 9 seed. Two losses, which may happen Thursday, in Oklahoma City, and Monday, in Houston, would do the trick if the season were to end next week. Even though there’s still one month, the schedule will not get any easier after the Rockets and Thunder, with playoff teams in the East and West lined up that will give the Silver and Black a challenge.
Amazingly, since Jan. 13, the last game Kawhi Leonard played, the Spurs beat just two playoff teams: the Cleveland Cavaliers (twice) and Denver Nuggets. Other wins were against the Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns and the Sacramento Kings. Defeating the weakest teams is fine, but not enough to just have that, to get into the postseason. Sure, games against the Golden State Warriors, New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz were close, but the Spurs failed to close against any of them, all of whom have players that can take over games.
Maybe it’s just a Kawhi problem. Everything might be all right when he returns, but will it be too little, too late?
Saturday’s game in Oklahoma City is a must-win scenario, and one the Spurs will need to overcome without Leonard, again, against some of the West’s elite players. A loss puts them near the bottom of the playoff picture, with the potential to fall behind the Jazz, Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers heading into the middle of March.