San Antonio Spurs: 2020 Season and Playoffs' Predictions
You don’t have to be an NBA expert to know that the San Antonio Spurs playoffs’ history is one of the best in league history. There have been just four years since the franchise relocated to San Antonio in 1973 that they didn’t reach the playoffs. That includes the current streak of 22 consecutive playoff appearances. However, if you’ve bought San Antonio Spurs tickets this season, you’ve seen a team that’s struggling and currently on the outside of the playoff picture. Let’s take a closer look at their season and make some Spurs playoffs predictions with that epic streak in serious danger.
How Did We Get Here?
San Antonio’s 2019-20 season actually got off to a good start. The Spurs won three in a row and four of their first five games to start the campaign. Things looked promising right off the bat and few had any thoughts of their playoff streak coming to an end. However, the four teams the Spurs beat during that stretch early in the season are among the most vulnerable teams in the NBA this season. If the playoffs started today, none would be participating.
Despite the quick start, things turned south for the Spurs early in November when the team began what would become an eight-game losing streak that dropped them to 5-11 on the season. Most of those games were close, but the fact that San Antonio couldn’t find a way to turn a couple of them into wins was concerning. The good news is that things leveled off after that losing streak. However, the team was unable to get much traction. After winning three in a row to start the season, the Spurs didn’t win three straight again until mid-January.
Oddly enough, it was right after that three-game winning streak that things began to fall apart again for San Antonio. They lost eight games in an 11-game stretch heading into the all-star break. In their defense, the Spurs played six straight on the road right before the break. But losing five of those six games created a sizable distance between them and the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
While this season has been filled with setbacks, the Spurs playoffs chances are not hopeless because there have been plenty of positive signs. For starters, San Antonio has proven that they can beat quality teams. In January, the Spurs put together three wins in a span of four games. Those wins came against the Bucks, Celtics, and Raptors, who are the three best teams in the Eastern Conference this season. On their best night, the Spurs can compete with some of the best teams in the NBA. it’s just a matter of being able to do so consistently and finding a way to win so many of the close games the Spurs have managed to lose this season.
What Needs to Happen?
The biggest key to the Spurs finding their way to the playoffs in 2020 is defense. San Antonio allows over 114 points per game, putting them in the bottom third of the NBA. While the Spurs rank 10th in the NBA in scoring, they still allow more points per game than they score, which isn’t a good formula for making the playoffs. Situational defense, in particular, has been a problem for Greg Popovich’s team. The Spurs have suffered too many breakdowns late in games, which is why they’re losing more close games than they’re winning.
In addition to playing better defense, the Spurs will need some of their younger players to step up down the stretch. The frontcourt tandem of DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge has been able to carry the Spurs at times this season. But the fate of San Antonio’s season could rest on the shoulders of the young backcourt of Bryn Forbes and Dejounte Murray.
Now in his fourth pro season, Forbes has seen his shooting percentage fall significantly from last season, especially from the three-point line. When he can consistently make outside shots, he can be a difference-maker. But when he goes cold, Forbes does more harm than good for the Spurs, especially since he’s one of San Antonio’s worst defensive players and often gets exposed because of his lack of size.
As for Murray, he’s made some nice series in his third NBA season. He’s become a regular starter and improved his numbers in nearly every statistical category. More importantly, he started to heat up right before the all-star break, even as the Spurs struggled to win games. In a 20-point loss to Sacramento, he was one rebound and one assist shy of a triple-double. The key for him is consistency. If Murray can bring his A-game to the San Antonio lineup every game, their playoff chances will improve considerably.
Can They Do It?
The million-dollar question in San Antonio these days is whether the Spurs can make a playoff push during the second half of the season. At the moment, the odds are not in their favor. However, they have two all-star caliber players in DeRozan and Aldridge, which is something few teams on the periphery of the playoff race have. The Spurs also have one of the best coaches the NBA has ever seen in Popovich. With two all-stars, great coaching, promising young players, and a little bit of luck, we think the Spurs can overcome the long odds and reach the playoffs in 2020.