The Hangover: Spurs Clinch Their 20th Straight Playoff Berth

This is the Hangover. This is where I get drunk on the NBA as I recap last night’s action as well as a few things going on around the league. Here’s your word vomit.

03/04/2017

THE GAMES

DET 136 (30-32) @ PHI 106 (23-39)
TOR 94 (37-26) @ MIL 101 (28-33)
CLE 92 (42-19) @ MIA 120 (29-34)
LAC 101 (37-25) @ CHI 91 (31-31)
CHA 112 (27-35) @ DEN 102 (28-34)
MEM 108 (36-27) @ HOU 123 (44-19)
MIN 90 (25-37) @ SA 97 (48-13) [OT]
BRK 116 (10-51) @ POR 130 (26-35)

(PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images.)

OF COURSE, SPURS CLINCHED A PLAYOFF SPOT AGAIN

For the 20th consecutive year, the San Antonio Spurs clinched a playoff spot. The last year the Spurs weren’t in the playoffs, this was one of the #1 songs:

(VIDEO CREDIT: SpiceGirlsVEVO.)

Yeah, that is a LOOOOONG time ago. And in the draft following that season, they ended up getting the #1 pick in Tim Duncan. Aren’t they lucky or what?

Well, yeah. They’ve been lucky but they’ve also been doing fantastic work in building and reloading the team. They got all the right role players and they got mostly guys with little to no egos in terms of knowing what they do for the team. And who knew they would land their next franchise player in Kawhi Leonard, who was envisioned to be their defensive stopper at the wing? It’s the environment that Gregg Popovich established. It’s why Pop is lauded by some pundits as the greatest NBA coach of all-time. The Spurs are the supposed dream team of fans. They get the “boring” tag but it’s really because they have no drama, they do their jobs, and there’s nothing flashy about them.

But if you really know your hoops, you know they are far from boring. The way the Warriors play seems modeled after the Spurs. Look at the ball movement. Look at one guy passing up a shot to get a much better shot. Look at the personnel moving without the ball. Look at the unselfishness. The 2014 Spurs that won the title was the greatest passing team I’ve ever seen (was too young to really remember the mid-80s Celtics/Lakers). And you wonder why every team in the league strives to be the Spurs.

The Spurs are approaching the record for most consecutive playoff appearances held by the Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers (22, 1949-50 to 1970-71). Right behind them are the Portland TrailBlazers (21, 1982-83 to 2002-03) and the Utah Jazz (20, 1983-84 to 2002-03). With Kawhi and Pop leading the way (I assume Pop is staying a few more years), I don’t see them NOT breaking the record as the team is healthy.

THE REST OF THE LEAGUE

The NBA is funny. The cold Clippers beat the hot Bulls in Chicago bringing back some sort of reality in this league.

Also, Toronto can’t blow games like the one against Milwaukee. The Bucks are a team out of the playoffs right now and this was a very winnable game for the Raptors.

The Rockets continue their assault from three as they made 18 more against the Grizzlies. This was the 17th straight game that they made 10 threes.

The Pistons are a funny team and are the model of inconsistency right now. One night, they’re beating a good team like the Wizards and then the next, they’re losing against the Kings. At least, they pounded the Sixers on Saturday night.

With Joel Embiid out for the season, I doubt he wins Rookie of the Year as he only played 31 games. Teammate Dario Saric probably has the best chance to win at 11.6 points and 6.2 rebounds.

Finally, after the Heat blew out the Cavs (who played without Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, Dion Waiters and a suited-up J.R. Smith exchanged words.

(VIDEO CREDIT: Ximo Pierto.)

I would love to see Dion and J.R. throw down. I’d subscribe to a fighting network channel if they carry the fight.

LINE CROSSER

Leonard did some fantastic work in yet another OT game.

34 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 steals.

He’s just doing damage everywhere.

WATCH THIS PLAY

(VIDEO CREDIT: MrHK.)

He doesn’t do it so much anymore but we appreciate it when Blake Griffin does a doomsday explosion like this.


Follow Rey-Rey on Twitter at @TheNoLookPass for all tweets about the NBA. Also, check out his podcast, Rey-Rey Is Fundamental.

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