Season 51, Game 81
San Antonio 98, Sacramento 85
47-34, 6th in the West

In October, if you’d told me that all the Spurs needed to do to secure a playoff berth was beat the Kings at home, I’d have shrugged my shoulders and assumed you were talking about some random home game in March.

If you’d then told me that it was actually Game 81 and the win–and the playoffs–were in jeopardy, I would’ve assumed the worst.

And the worst did happen, sports-wise. The Spurs lost their best player (for all intents and purposes) for the whole season. A roster built around the supreme talents of one player suddenly became a collection of unproven role players, past-their-prime veterans, and one star with a game built around an antiquated mode of playing.

It was a tough season by Spurs’ fans standards, and Monday’s win over the Kings kind of encapsulates all of it. The team was really unable to generate any chemistry or momentum until the fourth quarter, and had to be bailed out by their 40-year-old “star” who still probably plays with more passion than any other player on the team.

The win didn’t necessarily inspire any confidence, but it wasn’t a nail-biter. It was fine. This team is fine. This season was fine.

“Fine” is a tough sell to us spoiled Spurs’ followers.

LaMarcus Aldridge had a rare game in which he struggled. Luckily Rudy Gay, Manu Ginobili, and Bryn Forbes helped to pick up the scoring slack. The team picked up the defense in the second half, holding the Kings to an anemic 35 points in the final 24 minutes. What finally secured the win, though, was the team deciding to play some offense, exploding for 38 in the fourth quarter, after managing  60 in the preceding three.

The game secured the team’s passage to it’s unprecedented 21st straight playoffs. We shouldn’t take that for granted, but we will. The team’s consistency for decades is remarkable, and only helps to underscore how unrecognizable a good (or, as others might say, “fine”) season is to us. This is/was a good season. To listen to us talk about it, you’d believe otherwise.

Now we wait to find out the team’s final spot in the Western Conference hierarchy, with any seed from 4 to 8 possible. If the team beats New Orleans on the final day of the season, I believe they can do no worse than 6th. If they lose, I believe they can do no better than 7.

We won’t know for certain until the final buzzer sounds late Wednesday night. The last time the Spurs closed the season in New Orleans, it ended in disappointment and presaged an early playoff exit. Here’s hoping for a better result this close of season.

Go Spurs Go.