Heading into the NBA restart schedule, the San Antonio Spurs were considered a serious longshot to win the championship. They weren’t even amongst favorites to grab the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Teams such as New Orleans, Portland, and Sacramento had the edge. Despite not having several key roster members and a lot of younger talents, Gregg Popovich has the Spurs as one of the surprise teams at the bubble. As of Sunday, they were closing in on that play-in spot.
Gregg Popovich Calls Play-in Opportunity ‘Huge’
Even Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich wasn’t planning on the playoff chase as his team’s main agenda for these games. Popovich said the focus would be more on player development during the NBA restart. With that said, his coaching expertise has not only worked on that development but also managed to work the Spurs within contention for the coveted play-in spot for the final seed in the Western Conference.
On Sunday afternoon, the Spurs defeated the Pelicans, 122-113, putting them on the verge of clinching the No. 9 spot and the play-in situation. Popovich spoke with the media about the win and when asked about the opportunity to clinch, called it “huge.”
“I think it would be huge. How they spent, what is this the fifth week, as have the other teams, and if you’re able to be in that ninth spot, that’s quite a victory, and it says a lot about how this young group has come together with three of the starters out,” Pop commented.
“I’m already thrilled the way they played, but that would be really fantastic if we could get there,” the Spurs coach added.
The Spurs had a chance to move into the No. 9 spot if the Portland Trail Blazers lost to the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out as Portland won, 124-121 to keep their own hopes alive for a play-in.
Spurs Still Vying for Chance at Playoffs
After Sunday night’s victory, the San Antonio Spurs have two more games left as part of the NBA restart. They’ll play James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and the Houston Rockets on Tuesday (Aug. 11) afternoon. Their final game on the restart seeding schedule is TBD for Thursday (Aug. 13) against the Utah Jazz.
Sunday’s win was big, but so was the Portland Trail Blazers’ win over the Sixers. With that victory, Portland stayed ahead of the Spurs in the chase for the No. 9 spot. Meanwhile, the Phoenix Suns have also been red hot, going 5-0 in their NBA restart games. They’ll take on the Oklahoma City Thunder tomorrow afternoon.
Nonetheless, what the Spurs have done has been nothing short of impressive. The team was notably without LaMarcus Aldridge heading to the the bubble as he needed season-ending shoulder surgery. An appendectomy kept Trey Lyles away from the restart as while.
The latest injury came on Sunday as Derrick White was hobbled by a knee injury. During Gregg Popovich’s postgame comments, he said he didn’t know the situation with White yet. DeMar DeRozan mentioned he was headed to check on him as soon as his media time was over.
That said, it continues to be glaringly obvious that coach Popovich can get the best out of whatever group he has available, which has been the key to his franchise’s longevity as a playoff squad. Will anyone be surprised if the Spurs defy the odds and make another postseason appearance? Visit our main Spurs news page for more of the latest updates about the team and players.