Despite losing their best players for all but nine games of the 2017-18 season, the San Antonio Spurs have managed to clinch a playoff berth for the 21st straight season. The accomplishment comes in a season where the Western Conference has played as tough as it ever has. The ninth seed, be it the Denver Nuggets or Minnesota Timberwolves, will finish with 46 wins.
Head coach Gregg Popovich has built a program that is the model of consistency. Injuries took Kawhi Leonard away from the team for nearly all of the season, but the next-man up mantra has served the organization well.
“It's like we've said in any other year: We want to be the best team we can be come playoff time,” Popovich told reporters following the clinching win over the Sacramento Kings. “I think at this point, other than our road play, we've gotten to the point where we know our team pretty well.”
LaMarcus Aldridge has emerged as an All-NBA forward and the Spurs have gotten a lift from multiple younger players. During the season, Popovich also moved veteran point guard Tony Parker to the bench in favor of Dejounte Murray.
The Spurs have lost 196 man games due to injury, but they still managed to make the playoffs. The Spurs will finish the season with at least 47 wins, and they could still finish as high as No. 3 in the West.
"It feels good," Rudy Gay said. "It feels great, actually."
When the playoffs roll around, the Spurs will lean on what has made them successful throughout the years: ball movement and tough defense.
The Spurs will finish their regular season schedule against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.
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