As the San Antonio Spurs fight toward the playoffs, it’s hard to deny the looming cloud of injuries that has fluctuated the team’s trajectory.
It was just under a year ago when Manu Ginobili stood in front of the media and answered questions regarding the ongoing injury drama surrounding small forward Kawhi Leonard. The franchise superstar, who missed more than half the season because of a ruptured quad tendon injury, had been feuding with San Antonio Spurs organization regarding his injury.
Despite this set back, the Spurs still managed to make the playoffs last year by landing the 7th seed in a competitive Western Conference. Unfortunately, the Spurs had an early exit in the playoffs last year, losing to the Warriors in the first round.
While last season was highlighted by a plaguing injury, the new season looked hopeful. San Antonio sent Leonard to the Raptors in exchange for shooting guard DeMar DeRozan. This new chapter for the Spurs lead opened up ambition for the newly assembled roster.
With preseason approaching and media day underway, San Antonio initially seemed promising and showed the potential to become title contenders.
On a Sunday afternoon in October at the AT&T Center, coming off two consecutive preseason victories, the Spurs found themselves facing an ambitious Houston Rockets team. Promising point guard Dejounte Murray grabs the rebound, powers down the court, goes up for a layup and lands in agonizing pain.
Clenching his right leg, Murray’s pain leaves the team and fans on edge. Luckily, Murray mustered up the energy to get up on his own and walk to the locker room. Reports later revealed that Murray suffered a torn right ACL which left him on the sidelines for the remainder of the preseason and regular season.h
That opened-up a portal for unforeseen injuries for the Spurs regular season. Recently resigned small forward, Rudy Gay missed 4 games due to a right heel injury.
International players Jakob Poeltl and Davis Bertans would miss games in November. Although the Spurs roster availability began to fluctuate during the first quarter of the season, they’ve been able to maintain a seat at the playoff table.
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The Spurs playoff appearance for the end of the year seemed uncertain with more injuries occurring. DeMar DeRozan and Marco Belinelli being unavailable for short periods of time put the health status of the Spurs in question. Will the roster be healthy enough to get past the first round of the playoffs? (That’s also contingent upon them making the playoffs.)
For the past 23 seasons, Gregg Popovich has trail-blazed his way to being one of the greatest coaches of all time in the NBA. Popovich is currently ranked third in most NBA wins of all time (and counting). Popovich has managed to make 21 consecutive appearances in the NBA playoffs.
When there’s a Pop, there’s a way. The San Antonio Spurs have struggled with injuries throughout the season, but what NBA team hasn’t?
What do the Spurs have that the other teams don’t have? Popovich.
The roster has changed many times for 23 seasons – some changes drastic, some changes minor and even some changes that were necessary. Popovich has led the Spurs to victory with his coaching ways with or without injury trouble.
This season should be another accolade to his extensive list of accomplishments.