When it comes to the NBA Playoff bubble picture right now, four teams are still within contention for the final postseason seed in the Western Conference. Surprisingly, one of those teams is the San Antonio Spurs coached by 71-year-old veteran Gregg Popovich. The Spurs have defied many people’s expectations, including Pop’s as he recently commented on what his team’s done during the restart.
Popovich Comments on Spurs’ Success at NBA Restart
Heading into the eight games for the NBA restart in Florida, the San Antonio Spurs weren’t expected to be a major factor in the chase for a potential seed in the West. However, they’re amongst the teams along with Memphis, Portland, and Phoenix that can get the No. 8 spot for the conference playoffs.
Tuesday’s game saw the Spurs battle the Houston Rockets to try to stay alive in the playoff chase. A loss, coupled with a win by Portland or Phoenix, would have eliminated San Antonio completely. However, the Spurs took the game 123-105, and have now won five of seven games for the restart.
Ahead of the game, head coach Gregg Popovich spoke about his team’s impressive success. When asked what he’d say to someone if they told him a month ago they could go 6-2 at the bubble with a chance to make the playoffs Pop said, “I would have had them drug-tested.”
Pop also spoke about getting real about the team’s chances of winning it all ahead of the bubble. Knowing they’d be without key players LaMarcus Aldridge, Trey Lyles, and Bryn Forbes, he said the focus went onto development. However, getting a playoff spot could be “icing on the cake” as they accomplish even more.
“You have to be realistic. I don’t think our chances of winning a championship were great at the beginning of this nor are they now,” the Spurs coach said before the game, per ESPN’s Andrew Lopez. “If that’s a fact, then you need to do everything you can to develop and be prepared for next season.”
Spurs Using Four Guards Together, Johnson Stepping Up
Popovich has managed to coach his latest squad to success by employing a starting lineup featuring four guards. It has two-time All-Star DeMar Derozan on the floor along with Derrick White, Lonnie Walker, and Dejounte Murray. Jakob Poeltl is the lone big man for the starting five.
“With the three starters out, sitting Patty made sense. The development has been off the charts. We’re thrilled with it. It’s a win-win, no matter what. … But we’ve already accomplished what we thought we were capable of accomplishing. That’s what’s important,” Pop said of the team’s success.
In Tuesday’s win over Houston, DeRozan had 23 points. However, it was rookie Keldon Johnson leading the way with a career-high performance that included 24 points and 11 boards. Popovich praised the Spurs’ No. 29 draft pick after the win.
“That’s what he does,” Popovich said, per Yahoo! Sports. “He’s a high-energy guy. He’s very physical. Very competitive. Very coachable. He’s just a winner.”
Spurs Still Alive in NBA Playoff Bubble Picture
All of the above has translated to the Spurs going 5-2 so far and remaining very relevant in the NBA Playoff Bubble picture. It’s already been determined that two of the four aforementioned teams will have a play-in game to determine which Western Conference squad takes the No. 8 seed.
In addition to the Spurs’ win, Phoenix defeated Philadelphia 130-117 on Tuesday, and Portland edged Dallas, 134-131. However, Memphis didn’t help their chances in the chase as they lost 122-107 to Boston.
- Memphis Grizzlies 33-39
- Portland Trail Blazers 34-39
- Phoenix Suns 33-39
- San Antonio Spurs 32-38
San Antonio has just one game left on their seeding schedule, as they’ll take on the Utah Jazz on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Meanwhile, Phoenix tries to win their eighth and final game at the bubble when they take on Dallas at 4 p.m. Eastern Time. Portland will play against Brooklyn at 9 p.m. Eastern Time. All three games are on TNT.
The Spurs are on the verge of not only defying the odds but making some major history. If they manage to capture that final playoff spot in the Western Conference it means their 23rd-straight appearance in the postseason. That record would be synonymous with Gregg Popovich, a true coaching wizard who continues to dazzle with his ability to get the best from his available players.
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