With 5:13 left in the fourth quarter Sunday in Atlanta, the San Antonio Spurs held a slim 90-86 lead over the Hawks. The five minutes would finish out in thrilling fashion with both teams headed to overtime at 100 each, and eventually, the Hawks would win out in overtime with the 114-112 victory.
For San Antonio, they lost just their fifth game this season when either ahead or behind by five points in the final five minutes of a game. Compared to the five losses in that situation, the Spurs actually have over double that number in wins – with 14 wins when either ahead or behind by five points in the final five minutes of a game.
The data is showing that anytime the Spurs walk into the fourth quarter of a ‘close’ game where San Antonio is either leading or behind by five points in the final five minutes, the Spurs have a 73.7% chance of winning the game in that situation. When you consider that the team has six new players and two of them have had to play down the stretch late (Pau Gasol and Dewayne Dedmon), it bodes well for the Spurs’ future that they’re already executing quite well considering the new cast that has been brought in.
Even from a point guard perspective, there’s been a few close games where it’s not always Tony Parker closing down the stretch, but in some instances, Patty Mills has been the one to close out the game, depending on matchups and which guard has a rhythm leading into that situation.
In the 59 minutes (19 games) the Spurs have been in when either ahead or behind by five points with five minutes left, they’re scoring efficiently with an Offensive Rating of 126.2 Points Per 100 Possessions and clamping down on teams with a Defensive Rating of 97.9 Pp/100.
With Sunday’s loss, the Spurs lost their first game this season when leading by double digits in a game. Prior to Sunday, they were perfect 23-0 when getting a lead of 10 points in a ball game. With Sunday’s loss, they’re now winning 96% of their games when they lead by 10 points.
Both San Antonio and Atlanta could walk away from Sunday’s outcome with different perspectives.
For Atlanta: Maybe Tim Hardaway Jr. and Paul Millsap showed that their games can go to another level on rare occasions and the team showed grit and the ability to fight back, despite falling behind by 10 points late in the third quarter.
For San Antonio: Kawhi Leonard was just coming back from a stomach bug that sidelined him for two games and he never quite looked himself, plus, it took career nights from Millsap and Hardaway Jr. for the Hawks to beat the Spurs, not in regulation, but in overtime.
Overall for San Antonio, despite their loss to Atlanta, they’re still in good position when it comes to executing and getting wins in close games so far this season.