The San Antonio Spurs haven’t lost since Feb. 21.
Since suffering that 21-point loss at Phoenix, their final stop on a nine-game rodeo trip, the Spurs have reeled of 18 straight wins, a franchise record for consecutive victories.
Should the Spurs win at home Wednesday against Golden State, they’ll come to Oklahoma City for Thursday’s showdown with the Thunder riding a 19-game winning streak. It would add even more intrigue to a game that already holds significance for what it means in the standings. The Thunder trails the Spurs by 31/2 games for first place in the Western Conference and the right to have homecourt advantage throughout at least the West Finals.
So with San Antonio set to arrive as the hottest team in basketball, here are five things you should know about the streaking Spurs.
•They’re winning big. Over the course of their winning streak, the Spurs are destroying opponents by 16.5 points on average. San Antonio is averaging 111.2 points during the streak and has a league-leading offensive efficiency of 112.5. And they’re winning in different ways. One night, it’s high-octane offense. The next, it’s lockdown defense. San Antonio has allowed 100 points or more eight times during the streak, including a high mark of 112 to Orlando. But the Spurs also have blanketed teams by holding six opponents to 90 points or fewer, while also limiting opponents on the whole to 42.4 percent shooting in the streak. It’s as if they’re forcing you to pick your poison.
•They’ve got great balance and ball movement. This could be the most impressive aspect of the streak. In the 18 games, San Antonio has had only 16 20-point scorers. Tony Parker has scored at least 20 five times, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili have done it three times apiece, Marco Belinelli has done it twice and Kahwi Leonard, Danny Green and Austin Daye each reached 20 once. Parker is the lone 30-point scorer over this current stretch, reaching that mark just once. Rather than rely on one or two scorers, the Spurs have gotten an average of 5.7 players in double figures over the streak. They’re averaging an eye-popping 28.4 assists in their last 18, which is three more assists than their league-leading average. They’ve had 30 or more assists eight times in this streak. In a 122-101 win over Cleveland, they dished an incredible 39 assists on 43 made field goals.
•They’re well-rested. Another amazing aspect of this streak. Leonard is the only player averaging at least 30 minutes. And he’s just barely above that mark, at 30.1 per game. Ten Spurs are averaging at least 10 minutes during this stretch. Duncan (28.6), Parker (27.6) and Ginobili (22) are all below 29 minutes. Additionally, only three Spurs — Leonard, Belinelli and Boris Diaw — have appeared in each of these last 18 games. Duncan and Ginobili have appeared in 17. Parker has played in 15.
•Their bench gets busy. OK, it’s all impressive. Because the league’s best bench has been even better than normal. The Spurs’ reserves are averaging 50.4 points during the streak, five points more than their league-leading average. They’re outscoring opponents’ benches by 15.1 points per game. Of course, those staggering numbers go back to the Spurs smacking teams and pulling the starters in blowouts. But what the Spurs’ bench has done is impressive nonetheless. San Antonio’s reserves have scored at least 60 points on seven occasions during the streak, including the last three games. They’ve been outscored only five times in the last 18. They were as good as ever in a 119-85 win over the Lakers, scoring 76 points while their L.A. counterparts mustered just 31.
•They have a weakness. And it’s turnovers. While it’s not a huge deficiency, turnovers have been a bit of an issue for the Spurs. They’ve finished with more turnovers than their opponent in half of their games during this streak and have ended with the same amount twice. San Antonio’s 13.9 average giveaways during the streak are actually less than the 14.3 the Spurs average on the year. So, again, it’s not a huge deficiency. But there is more. San Antonio hasn’t forced many turnovers. The Spurs are getting just 13.5 turnovers a game out of opponents, which is below average. That means if the Thunder can take care of the ball and spook the Spurs into coughing it up, OKC could have a good chance at cooling off the hottest team in basketball.