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A Tale of Two Teams

Season 51, Game 78
San Antonio 110, Los Angeles Clippers 113
45-33, 4th in the West

Season 51, Game 79
San Antonio 112, Los Angeles Lakers 122
45-34, 5th in the West

Lost in the chaos of a drama-filled season – in which the leading headline has mostly been about a guy who isn’t even playing basketball right now – is a tale of two teams.

One team, plays in San Antonio, wears a color combination of black, silver and white, and more importantly, carries a sense of pride and responsibility. This team is good at basketball and while they may not be the best team in franchise history, is at least fun to watch. At their best, they are probably good enough to be the 3 seed in the Western Conference. In reality, they are a good basketball team.

The other team mirrors the first team in some aspects. You can see the resemblance, such as the same color combination of the jerseys, but the differences are also glaringly obvious. Completely removed from the confines of a familiar ATT Center, they wish to be nestled closely by a supportive fan base and comforted by some good home cookin’. This “other” team plays in the opponent’s home arena. This team is a bad basketball team.

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Spurs Dismantle Rockets on Easter Day

Season 51, Game 77
San Antonio 100, Houston 83
45-32, 4th in the West

During this game there was a lot of discussion between Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jason and Mike Breen about the consistent excellence of the San Antonio Spurs and how good they’ve played this season despite injuries.

Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, Rudy Gay, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green have missed 68, 27, 25, 16 and 12 games, respectively. Only Patty Mills has played in all 77.

It is truly astonishing, then, that the Spurs are a playoff team in the Western Conference, let alone that they have the 4th seed and are able to beat what is arguably the best team in the league.

Would this game have turned out differently if Chris Paul had played for Houston? Maybe. Probably.

The Spurs took the lead with 4 minutes left in the 1st quarter and never looked back. And yet, this game didn’t feel wrapped up until late in the 4th quarter.

I kept waiting for James Harden to go on a scoring spree, but he never did. He ended up with a ho-hum 25 points on 8-of-19 shooting.

The Spurs were led, as always, by LaMarcus Aldridge, who finished with 23 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks.

Rudy Gay scored 21 points and came through with some big moments when San Antonio needed them, including this block on Eric Gordon followed by an emphatic dunk on the opposite end:

After failing to finish a few fast break layup opportunities, and getting some advice from Coach Pop to pull up shoot the 3-ball, Patty Mills had a big fourth quarter, nailing 3-of-6 three pointers and finishing with 14 points.

With just five games left to play, it’s unlikely the Spurs will win five straight to finish with 50 wins for their 19th consecutive season.

They’d have to win against the Clippers and Lakers on the road, against the Trailblazers and Kings at home, then against the Pelicans on the road.

Don’t hold your breath, but don’t give up faith.

If last night’s game showed us anything it’s that the Spurs are a still a good team and could give anyone a run in the first round of the playoffs.

Anything can happen.

The Spurs head to Los Angeles for Tuesday and Wednesday night games at Staples. Neither LA team will make the playoffs this year, so both teams will be playing for pride, if anything. Should be fun.

Go Spurs Go.

Photo credit: Darren Abate / Associated Press

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Spurs Stop Bleeding in Home Win Over Thunder

Season 51, Game 76
San Antonio 103, Oklahoma City 99
44-32, 4th in the West

In February, I would have guessed another four to six game losing streak was coming. Hell, I would have guessed that earlier in March too. But the San Antonio Spurs, fresh off two embarrassing road losses to the Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards, found a way to take down Oklahoma City at home. And whew, it was nice to see San Antonio prevent their previous two losses from snowballing into something worse, I’ll tell you what.

Led by – who else – LaMarcus Aldridge, the Spurs got just enough from their players to not only win the game, but improve to fourth in the Western Conference. With just six games left, San Antonio sits 2.5 games behind Portland, and only 2.5 games ahead of the L.A. Clippers in 9th place. This is to say that every game really matters at this point in the season, and we should all be extremely thankful Aldridge is along for the ride.

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Aldridge Leaves Game With Knee Injury, Spurs Lose to Wizards

Season 51, Game 75
San Antonio 106, Washington 116
43-32, 6th in the West

The Spurs are a bad road team.

One of the things that makes this season so (un)remarkable is just how bad the Spurs are on the road. One of the consistent pillars of the teams string of 50-win seasons has been their ability to take care of business on the road. They always have a winning road record. Always. A shorthand to gauge the true greatness of a team is to compare road wins to home losses: the greater the difference, the better the team. Right now, the Spurs are +6.

For comparison, the Rockets (the best team in the league) are +24. The Warriors are +16. The rest of the bunched up West fighting for the playoffs are all similar to the Spurs, which only goes to prove how ordinary this team is.

What’s more disturbing, though, is that the Spurs are the worst road team of any current playoff team, East or West. Dead last. Only the Nuggets (still fighting, but outside of the playoff picture) are a worse road team. Not a good stat for a team certain to start the playoffs on the road against a better team.

Honestly, this road mediocrity was the first sign that this season wasn’t going as planned. Even before the big swoon that dropped the team from 3rd in the West to 10th, they did not have a good road record. The signs were there, they were just able to paper over them. But now we know: the team is just kind of meh.

As for the actual game, there’s not much to say. They were kind of meh. LaMarcus Aldridge left the game late in the first half with what is being called a knee contusion and really this season just keeps getting worse. The hope is that he won’t be out long. Even if he plays, the schedule is not easy the rest of the way, home or road. But without LaMarcus, this team is absolutely dead in the water screwed.

But hey, at least our next game is at home. Against the Thunder, a team that has given us big problems this season.

Go Spurs Go.

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