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San Antonio Spurs: Recent playoff history in elimination games

By Rob Wolkenbrod
SAN ANTONIO - JUNE 23: Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs and Chauncey Billups #1 of the Detroit Pistons go after a rebound in the first half of Game seven of the 2005 NBA Finals at SBC Center on June 23, 2005 in San Antonio, Texas. The Spurs defeated the Pistons 81-74 and win the NBA Championship series 4-3. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO - JUNE 23: Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs and Chauncey Billups #1 of the Detroit Pistons go after a rebound in the first half of Game seven of the 2005 NBA Finals at SBC Center on June 23, 2005 in San Antonio, Texas. The Spurs defeated the Pistons 81-74 and win the NBA Championship series 4-3. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The San Antonio Spurs are on the brink of elimination in the 2018 NBA playoffs, but what’s their recent history in these make-or-break games?

After a lopsided loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 of their first-round series, the San Antonio Spurs sit at a 3-0 deficit, entering a must-win scenario in Game 4. A loss would eliminate them from the postseason and mark just their fourth first-round elimination in the streak of 21 consecutive seasons of making the playoffs.

The Spurs have a different history in elimination games, however, during this 21-year run. For five of them (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014), there were few games that put the team in a make-or-break situation. However, Sunday puts the Silver and Black in a precarious position, against a team they found little success matching up with.

Is history on San Antonio’s side in elimination games? Not quite, but they managed to stay alive before, with a 3-16 record in these scenarios since the 1997-98 season, with their full playoff history found on RealGM. Some of the games were notable, as well:

  • 2000-01: Game 4 loss vs. Los Angeles Lakers (Western Conference Finals)
  • 2004-05: Game 7 win vs. Detroit Pistons (NBA Finals)
  • 2005-06: Game 7 loss vs. Dallas Mavericks (Second Round)
  • 2007-08: Game 5 loss vs. Los Angeles Lakers (Western Conference Finals)
  • 2010-11: Game 7 loss vs. Memphis Grizzlies (First Round)
  • 2012-13: Game 7 loss vs. Miami Heat (NBA Finals)

Most of these series saw the Spurs already down by at least one or two games, and with the infrequency of playoff comebacks (unless it’s the Warriors vs. Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2016 Western Conference Finals), it is hardly a surprise their record is only this. With how the current first-round series has trended, 3-17 seems likely.

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Can LaMarcus Aldridge and company buck the trend, though? It comes down to a critical Game 4 at the AT&T Center, where the Spurs have mostly found success, except for Thursday’s Game 3 and occasional losses in the regular season.

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