Under Gregg Popovich, the San Antonio Spurs have made the playoffs for 22 consecutive seasons. However, the team has failed to go past the second round in either of the past two campaigns.
If they can secure one of the final two Western Conference play-in tournament berths, their wait may finally come to an end. In the race for the 10th seed, San Antonio is currently ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers by two games with four to play. All of the remaining games for the Spurs are against teams who are currently in the playoffs.
The Spurs (33-45) Face Their First Test on Tuesday Night as they Travel to Take on the Denver Nuggets (47-32).
San Antonio and Los Angeles split their season series, but the Spurs have the tiebreaker thanks to their better conference record. They need to win only two more games to claim a playoff berth. In the season’s last week, the Spurs are not concentrating on the Lakers.
“As long as we just take care of business and not really focus on anybody else, just focus on ourselves each and every game,” forward Keldon Johnson said following Sunday’s victory against Portland.
Dejounte Murray (non-COVID sickness) and Jakob Poeltl (back) did not play for San Antonio in this victory, but the team is hopeful that both players will be healthy enough to return on Tuesday. In the 113-92 victory over the Trail Blazers, Murray sat out for the second straight game and Poeltl was a late scratch.
The Spurs have a stronger record away from home, where they have won four consecutive games. With three of its final four games away from home, San Antonio has a road record of 17-21. At home, the team has a 16-24 record.
Denver has a better chance of avoiding the play-in tournament if it can beat the Spurs for a third time in four encounters. The Timberwolves (45-34) are only one game behind the Nuggets (34-45), but they have the tiebreaker.
Losing just one of its final three games, all of which will be played at home, will still keep Denver above the Timberwolves in the Western Conference standings. Sunday’s victory over the Lakers in Los Angeles boosted the Nuggets’ outlook and aided the Spurs.
Denver pulled away in the fourth quarter because to two 3-pointers from Will Barton, who finished with 25 points and a team-high six. He played through pain in his right knee that may have kept him off the field, but the stakes of the game ultimately won out.
Barton Acknowledged, “We still Got Some Ground to Make Up.”
The Nuggets’ best two players, excluding Nikola Jokic, are unlikely to be available down the stretch. The team has not said whether or not Jamal Murray (ACL surgery) or Michael Porter Jr. (back surgery) will play despite the fact that both have increased their workload and are participating in intensive pregame exercises.
Despite lacking them, Jokic has flourished and is now a top contender for league MVP for a second consecutive season. Jokic is putting up solid numbers, ranking in the top 10 in points (26.8), rebounds (13.7), and assists (8.0) in the NBA (eighth).