On Saturday night the longest streak in the NBA came to a halt when the Philadelphia 76ers got their first win in the last 26 attempts. After tying the record for most losses in a row at 25, Philly was able to avoid taking sole possession of that record with an impressive 123-98 win over Detroit. With the win and the 76ers finally off the record radar, attention now shifts to another streak that still remains in the NBA. This one is much more impressive and congratulatory, as the Spurs recorded their 17th straight win in a 96-80 victory over the Pelicans.
The Spurs started this streak way back on February 26th with a 120-110 win over Detroit. 17 games later the Spurs have knocked off a variety of teams, including big wins over Miami, Chicago and Portland. There are a few other wins in there against the Lakers, Jazz, Kings and Magic, which aren’t nearly impressive. But the overall body of work for the Spurs for the last month has been something to take note of.
In order to close out March without losing a game, the Spurs will face the Pacers in Indiana on Monday night. The Pacers, who beat the Heat last week in a huge game, are the top seed in the East. This battle between the top teams in each conference will give us a much better idea of where the Spurs are at in terms of running with up-and-coming teams like the Pacers.
The Spurs recent streak has allowed for them to take a full 3 ½ game lead over the Thunder, who at one point in the drivers seat in the West. Now, the Thunder will have to finish the final two weeks of the season incredibly strong on their own, while also hope that the Spurs stumble a bit in the tough road that lays ahead for them.
In the final two weeks of the season for San Antonio, they will play against teams that are already in the playoffs or vying for that coveted eighth-seed. Games against Golden State, Oklahoma City, Memphis, Minnesota, Dallas, Phoenix and Houston will all be tough tests for the Spurs to gauge where they are at as the playoffs approach. Luckily they’ll finish the season against the Los Angeles Lakers at home, so they do have that to look forward to. But in the mean time, the Spurs will want to stay healthy and also stay productive, as they face off against some of the best in the West.
In the win on Saturday, Manu Ginobili had 15 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals. Ginobili hasn’t been nearly as productive this year, so games like this at this point in the season are reassuring for Gregg Popovich and the rest of the Spurs team. Kawhi Leonard also had 15 and Marco Belinelli pitched in with 18 points of his own. Off the bench, Patty Mills had 13 points.
The most impressive stat line for the Spurs may have been the plus/minus rating with their starters on the court. Boris Diaw was +15, Tim Duncan was +27, Leonard +12, Tony Parker +18 and Belinelli +19. These are the kind of numbers teams like to see with their go-to guys on the court.
As mentioned, the Spurs will look to continue their streak against the Pacers on Monday night. Keep in mind that the game will be the Pacers second game of a back-to-back, where teams rarely fair well. However, the Pacers already won the first game of this matchup in a 111-100 win back on December 7th.
As for the ultimate goal of the NBA Championship, the Spurs have edged ahead of the Pacers and sit second only behind Miami with the best odds to win the Larry O’Brien trophy. The Spurs currently sitting at 7/2, while the Heat are 13/5 and the Pacers are 4/1.