San Antonio Spurs Playoff Streak Snapped at NBA Bubble

As of Thursday, the San Antonio Spurs saw an amazing run of 22 consecutive playoff appearances snapped at Orlando’s NBA bubble. The Spurs were one of the five additional teams from the Western Conference invited to participate in the NBA restart. They were also one of the surprising stories to emerge, along with Phoenix, but on Thursday their postseason chances slipped away, before the Spurs could finish their game.

Spurs Eliminated From Play-in Game Prior to Game Against Jazz

Heading into Thursday’s schedule, four West teams were still contending for the play-in game for the 8th seed in the Western Conference. They were the Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers, and San Antonio Spurs. Based on play-in spot scenarios. the Spurs needed to pick up a win in their game over the Utah Jazz. They also needed two of the other three teams mentioned (Memphis, Phoenix, Portland) to lose.

Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Phoenix picked up a 128-102 win over the Dallas Mavs with Devin Booker scoring 27 points in the win. The Memphis Grizzlies also picked up a win, 119-106. Dillon Brooks scored 31 to lead the way for the Grizz, who secured at worst, the No. 9 spot in the play-in game.

The Portland Trail Blazers were the remaining West team and were still in control of their fate. They were set to take on the Brooklyn Nets at 9 p.m. Eastern Time. A win would put Portland in as the No. 8 seed. However, a loss would mean Phoenix takes No. 9 and faces No. 8 Memphis in the play-in game.

All that said, it meant the Spurs didn’t get the two losses necessary to play on at the NBA bubble. Even so, they still took the court against a Utah Jazz team without stars Rudy Gobert and Mike Conley. The team was 5-2 heading into their final game for the NBA restart.

Spurs Achieved Impressive Playoff History

The last time the San Antonio Spurs failed to make the playoffs was in 1996-97. The team finished with a paltry record of 20-62 and was sixth in the Midwest Division. That campaign also saw Popovich fire head coach Bob Hill early and take over the coaching job during the season. 

In the seasons that followed, the Spurs had a winning record and never finished worse than third ahead of those 22-straight playoff appearances. They also won five NBA Championships thanks to Pop’s coaching and stars including David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Kawhi Leonard.

However, the team finished in fourth place in the Southwest Division this season with a losing record. It was also a season disrupted by a pandemic.

The season was suspended for the league back in March due to Utah’s Rudy Gobert testing positive for COVID-19. Ultimately, the league formed a plan to restart and finish things safely in Florida at the bubble site. The Spurs were invited along with four other Western Conference teams with a chance to qualify for the final playoff spot.

The Spurs played well at the NBA bubble despite not having LaMarcus Aldridge, Trey Lyles, or Bryn Forbes available. Coach Popovich said getting to the playoffs would’ve been “icing on the cake” as the main goal at the bubble was player development.

At the very least, the San Antonio Spurs players gained valuable experience to build upon for next season. One has to wonder what sorts of moves the teams will make in the offseason to try to get back to the success this team has experienced for over two decades. Visit our Spurs news page for more of the latest team and player updates.