Legitimately at risk of missing the playoffs for the first time in two decades, the San Antonio Spurs need to be more reliable to continue the streak.
It seems like every night, head coach and franchise leader Gregg Popovich rolls out a different version of the 2019-20 San Antonio Spurs. Between tweaking lineups, balancing veterans with youth and varying rotations, you never know what you’re going to get from this group: Until now.
In the month of November, Pop spent time getting to know the identity of this team despite most of the group being returners. This resulted in a losing month after starting the season 3-1 through October.
However, the Spurs are turning things around here in December with a 6-5 record after their win over Detroit. They’re now essentially tied with the Portland Trail Blazers for the eighth seed in the West, although the Blazers’ 14-19 record provides a higher win percentage than the Spurs’ 13-19. If things continue trending upward, San Antonio will be back in the playoffs with no problem.
Since that throttling at the hands of the Pistons to begin the month, the Spurs have a sky-high +36 net rating with only one double-digit loss coming at the hands of a Finals contender in the LA Clippers.
After moving to the bench briefly, point guard Dejounte Murray regained his starting position and it seems like power forward Trey Lyles is generally solidified in his starting spot as well. The team operates without a single sixth man, but instead with three: guards Derrick White and Patty Mills as well as forward Rudy Gay.
This is the slow beginning of a return to normalcy for an organization that has spent the last three seasons in flux – the result of arguably the best player in the world sitting out and requesting for a trade.
By all accounts, this is an unconventional, traditional team that isn’t adhering to the league’s standards of three-point volume and inside shots. They take the fewest triples and the most mid-range jumpers in the league, but aren’t afraid to let it fly from the outside. Despite the struggles, this Spurs team has solid chemistry throughout it’s core and is only continuing to get better.
At this point, the Spurs are being counted out for the playoffs by many and for the first time in a long while, people inside the Alamo City are beginning to agree with the national media’s outcry of the end of an era. Quite frankly, that may still be the case as the team’s health has been near-perfect through the first fragment of the regular season and still, it’s been an uphill battle.
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With that said, there’s a belief among the players that things will shape up soon. According to San Antonio Express-News reporter Tom Orsborn, Mills senses a “hunger and eagerness to get better” and thinks things will “click into gear.”
Right now, it’s only a feeling, but things are getting better on the court to back up how the team has portrayed it’s dealings behind closed doors. With as many talented players and coaches as the Spurs have under contract this season, it’s hard to believe that they couldn’t pull things together.
Now it’s a matter of remaining consistent, sticking to their wits and battling as hard and as often as possible. San Antonio’s schedule was considered easy through the early portion of the season and dropping as many games as they did to sub-.500 teams didn’t help their case, but this isn’t over.
Even if it seemed like all hope was lost, remember the old saying: Never count the Spurs out.