Gregg Popovich finds himself ensconced in his worst losing streak in 23 years as head coach of the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs (5-10) dropped seven-straight games, and lost nine out of their last 10, since starting the season 4-1.
The Spurs are 3-9 against the spread this season, and 1-6 ATS during their current losing streak.
With the Spurs struggling on defense, the over hit in five straight games, and the over is 7-1 in the last eight contests.
If the banged-up Golden State Warriors (3-13) weren’t so atrocious this season, the Spurs would be slumming it in the Western Conference cellar.
San Antonio Spurs
Record ATS: 3-9
Losing Streak: 0-7
Points Allowed During Streak: 123.4 ppg
The good news for the Spurs is that the season is still early, and they have plenty of time to correct the ship and get back into playoff contention. If the playoffs were to begin to today, the Spurs would find themselves ranked #12 out of 15 teams in the West.
The Spurs allowed 129-plus points three times during their losing streak. Over the last seven games, the defense allowed 123.4 points per game.
If the Spurs can’t plug their holes on defense, they might fail to make the playoffs for the first time in 23 seasons. Pops and the Spurs hold the NBA’s longest active streak, with 22 straight postseason appearances.
The Spurs began the season on a positive note with a 4-1 clip. Then, the wheels came off the bus with back-to-back losses to the LA Lakers and Atlanta Hawks. The Lakers are the best team in the West, so that loss didn’t sting as much as losing to the inexperienced Hawks. Trae Young torched the Spurs for 29 points, with 28 of them coming in the second half. The ugly loss to the Hawks exposed the Spurs’ poor defense.
If it weren’t for the Oklahoma City Thunder, currently in rebuilding mode, the Spurs would be in the middle of a double-digit losing streak. The Thunder are the only team the Spurs defeated in the last couple of weeks.
“It’s extremely frustrating, especially being on this losing streak,” said guard DeMar DeRozan. “It sucks to lose. On the streak that we are on, every single game that we have lost has felt worse than the last one.”
The Spurs tallied losses against rebuilding teams like the Memphis Grizzlies (5-9) and Washington Wizards (4-8). They also lost to the struggling Portland Trail Blazers (5-11), who needed so much help on offense that the Blazers actually took a flier on Carmelo Anthony.
The seven-game skid is the worst streak since the Spurs were actively tanking in 1996-97 when David Robertson went down with an injury. In Popovich’s rookie season as a head coach, the Spurs suffered two losing streaks that spanned seven and eight games each.
“We’ve just got to stay positive,” said backup point guard Patty Mills. “We’ve got to stick together. Got to find a way and we’ll get through it.”
Juggling the Lineup
During the losing streak, the Spurs frequently find themselves in the hole early after slow starts. Pops decided to tweak the lineup to provide more scoring power at the get-go.
Pops benched starting point guard Dejounte Murray in favor of veteran, Patty Mills against the Washington Wizards. The move initially worked, and the Spurs scored 69 points in the first half, and led by six points. However, the Spurs’ lackluster defense came back to haunt them in the second half, and they lost 138-132 to the Wiz.
“All in all, if you score 132 points, you should probably have a pretty good chance to win a game. The bad news is, if you give up 138, you are not going to win,” Popovich told reporters after the loss. “I’m a really smart guy. I’m figuring that’s logical. I could be wrong. There’s not much else to say.”
DeRozan leads the Spurs with 21.7 points and 4.8 assists per game. LaMarcus Aldridge is having an off year. The 11-year vet is only scoring 17.9 points per game versus 21.3 last season. His rebounding is also down from 9.2 boards per game last year to only 6.9 this season.
On Deck: Sixers and Knicks
The Spurs are in the middle of a three-game road trip this NBA weekend, but have an upcoming back-to-back on the road. They face the Philadelphia 76ers (9-5) on Friday night, but don’t have to travel very far to play the New York Knicks (4-11) on Saturday. The last-place Knicks might be the slump-buster that the doctor ordered.
The Spurs return home for three games next week against the LA Lakers (12-2), Minnesota Timberwolves (8-7), and LA Clippers (10-5). On Monday, the first-place Lakers and LeBron James come to down. Kawhi Leonard makes his return to San Antonio on Friday, that is to say, if he doesn’t skip the game due to “load management”.