Community Shootaround: Spurs’ Playoff Streak

Gregg Popovich found the right solution when he decided to fire head coach Bob Hill early in the 1996/97 season. Popovich, who was serving as San Antonio’s general manager and VP of basketball operations, named himself as coach, taking over a team that was crumbling under injuries to David Robinson, Sean Elliott and Chuck Person. The Spurs didn’t rally to make the playoffs that season, but they haven’t missed since.

Some lottery luck brought Tim Duncan to San Antonio and started one of the most remarkable runs of success in North American sports. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili later became important components of a team that was among the NBA’s best for nearly two decades. Even after all the stars were gone, the Spurs continued to win, extending their playoff streak to 22 games last season, tied for the longest ever with the Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers, who did it from 1950 to 1971.

Keeping that tradition alive seems to get tougher every year. In the Western Conference, where nearly all the contenders made a flashy summer move, DeMarre Carroll and Trey Lyles were the Spurs’ most significant offseason additions. They join a veteran-laden lineup built around LaMarcus Aldridge (34), Rudy Gay (32) and DeMar DeRozan (30). The team’s best hope for improvement lies in Dejounte Murray‘s return from a torn right ACL and continued progress from Lonnie Walker and Derrick White.

Playoff spots will be at a premium in the West this year, and many seemed sewed up before the season starts. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George should keep the Clippers in the postseason, while the Lakers are likely to join them after trading for Anthony Davis. The Warriors will have a different look after five years at the top, but they still have an All-Star backcourt, plus Klay Thompson is expected to return sometime before the playoffs.

The Nuggets, Jazz and Trail Blazers all look strong in the Northwest, and the Rockets should also get in with a pair of MVP guards. That’s seven spots already locked up without considering other potential contenders such as the Pelicans, Mavericks, Thunder, Timberwolves and Kings.

Popovich believes in his system and has shown an ability to adapt and get the most from his players. However, surviving the Western Conference gauntlet and stretching the playoff streak to 23 might be his greatest coaching challenge yet.

We want to get your opinion. Do you see the Spurs as a playoff team, or is this the year the streak finally ends? Please leave your responses in the space below.

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20 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: Spurs’ Playoff Streak

  1. Are you kidding? They will make the playoffs. Pop would rather die than not make the playoffs, and he will do whatever it takes for them to get there. You can’t discredit their roster that much to say they won’t make the playoffs. Are they better than a 6th seed? No. Will they probably barely make the playoffs with the 8th seed? Yes. Are they a definite first round exit? Yes. But they will make the playoffs, no doubt in my mind.

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      The Spurs are far more likely to make the playoffs than the Warriors, especially with Klay Thompson out for at least 55 games. They’re the 2nd best team in the SW division after Houston. Memphis is the only team in that division with zero chance of making the playoffs. New Orleans also has a better chance than people think they do.

      • SocraticGadfly

        Uhh, wrong.

        I had the Spurs outside the ring a month ago, before the Russ-CP3 trade, with the Thunder at that time No. 8. Maybe the Spurs pass them, but barring injuries elsewhere, realistically, no higher than that.
        link to

  2. Chucktoad1


  3. yoyo137

    First off I definitely agree with the 7 teams you have as locks for playoff spots. The Thunder just seem a little shallow on depth to be able to win the championship this year. Roberson might come back and make a huge impact, Shai is a great young PG, and Gallo is a near elite scorer. Adams might average 18 RPG this year considering all the rebound he gifted to Russ and CP3 might play harder than ever because of the chip on his shoulder but those are all maybes and they seem like a team that will regress this year.
    I think the Kings are a year away from contention as well. I expect a big jump from Fox this year and possibly Hield. But they’re so young that you can’t depend on all of them taking a leap this year, especially with Luke Walton as the coach. I thought Joerger was the perfect coach for them the same way Mike Malone was when he was unfairly fired.
    The Mavericks have a lot of potential. They are one team that I wouldn’t count out. But they don’t have much around Doncic and Porzingis yet. Same with the Kings, I think they’re at least 1 year away.
    The Pelicans are the most intriguing team vying for that 8 spot. Based on the 1 Summer League game, I don’t believe Zion is going to come into the league and dominate immediately. His jumper has a very noticeable hitch in it and he depends on his physicality a little too much right now. He won’t get the benefit of the doubt on calls. But Lonzo, BI, and Josh Hart were great additions to a team that still has Jrue Holiday, and got Derrick Favors for basically just taking on his contract. Okafor should feast on backup bigs off the bench.
    I’m intrigued on the T-Wolves situation too. I think Andrew Wiggins is actually going to play a lot better this year, but I just don’t believe in that team. They traded Dario Saric and their big additions were Jordan Bell, Noah Vonleh, and Jake Layman, who all have insane potential based on their athleticism, but who also haven’t shown much as NBA players yet.
    That all being said, I do think it paves a way for a Spurs team to get into the playoffs. They have continuity and two stars in DeRozan and Aldridge, the most stable front office in the league with Pop and Buford (and their new GM), and they have 2nd team all-defense Dejounte Murray coming back from injury. It’s unfortunate that they traded Davis Bertans thinking they were going to sign Morris, but I’d put my money on them over any of the other teams vying for that last playoff spot (all of whom didn’t make the playoffs last year with the exception of the Thunder who lost PG and Russ).

  4. amk3510

    There are 6 teams undoubtedly better in the west. Its more of the same for SAS. 7 seed at best

  5. omar jimenez

    1.) Clippers
    2.) Nuggets
    3.) Jazz
    4.) Rockets
    5.) Lakers
    6.) Blazers
    7.) Spurs
    8.) Warriors

  6. Simple Fan

    1. Rockets
    2. Warriors
    3. Clippers
    4. Blazers
    5. Suns
    6. Lakers
    7. Nuggets
    8. Spurs

  7. IslandFlava

    1) Lakers
    2) Nuggets
    3) Clippers
    4) Rockets
    5) Warriors
    6) Blazers
    7) Jazz
    8) Mavericks/Timberwolves

  8. 1. Nuggets
    2. Clippers
    3. Jazz
    4. Rockets
    5. Blazers
    6. Lakers
    7. Spurs
    8. Warriors

    1. Philly
    2. Bucks
    3. Pacers
    4. Celtics
    5. Raptors
    6. Nets
    7. Heat
    8. Hawks

    Clippers vs Philly final

  9. Spurs make the playoffs, in the 6-8 range.

    If Murray comes back and looks good, him, along with the growth of White makes them a better team. SA is also a regular season juggernaut, so whether they are a first round casualty or not, they’re going to find a way to win 47+.

  10. I think this year they won’t go to play-off.
    Roster nothing special, pop older and they Lost their most important assistents

    • Spurs5

      Spurs make playoffs because veteran team with young talent ready take them to top 6 barring no injuries. Let’s come realization Denver and Utah surprise people last year so it won’t be sneaking up others. Watching spurs over last 20 yrs you can make it conference finals and be knock out 1st round next year so Portland beware. My picks #1 Clippers #2 Houston #3 spurs #4 lakers #5 utah #6 warriors ,#7 Portland #8 denver

  11. jordokmiller


  12. brewpackbuckbadg

    I see the Clippers as the top in the west. Lakers, Jazz Nuggets, Rockets, and probably the Warriors as the next tier. Spurs and Blazers having a chance to crack that group of 5 but a step below in my opinion. Mavericks, Kings, and Wolves, trying to break into the playoffs with the Suns, Pelicans, and Thunder even longer longshots for playoffs. Grizzlies clearly rebuilding.

  13. Spurs5

    Spurs make playoffs because veteran team with young talent ready take them to top 6 barring no injuries. Let’s come realization Denver and Utah surprise people so it won’t be sneaking up others. Watching spurs over last 20 you can make it conference finals be knock out 1st round next year so Portland beware. My picks #1 Clippers #2 Houston #3 spurs #4 lakers #5 utah #6 warriors ,#7 Portland #8 denver

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