The Spurs continue to look tired and lacking an extra gear as the losing streak stretches to seven.
Welcome to the Week in Review: a Monday feature that looks back at the week that was for the San Antonio Spurs, takes a look at the week ahead, and more. Enjoy!
Week 15: Spurs suffer a letdown week after grueling schedule finally catches up with them.
Week 16: 104-116 L @ Miami Heat; 111-127 L @ Orlando Magic; 103-123 L @ Brooklyn Nets
It was only two weeks ago that we were praising the Spurs’ recent improvements. They had been playing near .500 ball for several weeks since making the rotation adjustments of starting Tre Jones and moving Victor Wembanyama to center, and it truly felt like they had turned a corner. However, since then they have lost seven straight, looking gassed and lacking an extra gear in the fourth quarter while Wemby has seemingly hit the rookie wall as they sputter towards the All-Star break.
Those trends continued this week to open the Rodeo Road Trip against three middling Eastern Conference teams. In all three games, the Spurs got out to slow offensive starts, failed to reach their scoring average of 112 points per game, and without that extra gear, they could never catch back up to their opponent. The game in Miami was the best example of this problem, as they were within a point heading into the fourth quarter of a low scoring game, but Miami was able to take their game to another level thanks to Jimmy Butler turning it on, and the Spurs had no answer as the Heat pulled away.
The next night in Orlando, the Spurs never led and only managed to keep things close until midway through the second quarter before the Magic took over. Similar to their first matchup, the Magic showed the Spurs where their weaknesses lie, including size as both Wagner brothers had big games, as did Jonathon Isaac — not to mention, somehow Wemby only managed 1 rebound the entire game, which will likely never happen again. Their trip to Brooklyn was more of the same, as outside of briefly leading in the first quarter, the Spurs were playing from behind the entire game, and outside of an 11-point burst from Wemby to bring the Spurs back within 6 to open the third quarter, it as all Nets to end another winless week.
If there has been one bright takeaway from the latest losing streak, it’s that Devin Vassell has been able to find a level of consistency on offense and taken on a leadership role. Before the Nets game, he had led the Spurs in scoring for seven straight games while averaging 25 points on 51% shooting, 38% from three. If he can continue to put up numbers like that and the team can work its way out of the current slump — perhaps after some much needed rest from the All-Star break — things will start looking better again.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com — 30 (last week: 28)
OffRtg: 109.3 (27) DefRtg: 118.1 (25) NetRtg: -8.9 (29) Pace: 102.0 (5)
The Spurs’ latest losing streak has hit seven games and they’ve trailed each of their last four by at least 19 points.
1. The Spurs are one of five teams that rank in the bottom 10 on both ends of the floor, but they continue to have more issues on offense, where they’ve scored just 106.3 points per 100 possessions over the losing streak. Starting forwards Julian Champagnie and Jeremy Sochan have combined to shoot 38-for-100 (including 7-for-43 from 3-point range) over the seven games.
2. The Spurs still rank as the league’s fourth most improved defensive team, having allowed 1.5 fewer points per 100 possessions than they did last season, though that’s more about how bad they were (30th) on that end of the floor in ’22-23. In losing their last two games in Orlando and Brooklyn, they allowed two below-average offenses to each score more than 129 per 100.
3. The Spurs were outscored by 40 points (86-46) in the restricted area over those two games, with only three of Victor Wembanyama’s 28 total shots coming at the basket. For the season, 29% of his shots on the road* have come in the restricted area, a rate which ranks 70th among 188 players with at least 150 total field goal attempts on the road.
* Using just road shots here to account for shot-charting discrepancies from arena to arena.
The Spurs will face another below-average offense in Toronto on Monday. Then the Rodeo Trip comes back to Texas for their final game before the All-Star break and their third of four meetings with the Mavs.
Brett Siegel, Clutch Points — 26 (last week: 27)
Devin Vassell is a really good player. Victor Wembanyama is going to win Rookie of the Year. However, the San Antonio Spurs are terrible.
The Spurs are a bottom-five team in the NBA Power Rankings that is rebuilding with very few impactful players right now. This team will continue to develop for the rest of the season in hopes of achieving growth over the summer.
Coming up: Mon. 2/12 @ Toronto Raptors; Wed. 2/14 @ Dallas Mavericks
Prediction: 1-1 — At this point, it would actually be beneficial for the Spurs to let the Raptors win tonight as they need them to finish no worse than 7th to have the best chance at keeping their draft pick this summer — so of course they’ll find a way to blow it and win. Back to reality, the Spurs won’t have an answer to Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving and will lose heading into the All-Star break.