Spurs Stretch Run: Choose Your Own Adventure


In the words of noted Spurs fan Samuel L. Jackson, hold onto your butts.

San Antonio has just a dozen games left in the regular season, and there is still absolutely zero clarity as to what lies beyond game 82. The 40-30 Spurs are currently the seventh seed out west, but only two games away in either direction from the fourth or tenth. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is still tinkering with the starting lineup, and there’s still no telling if or when Kawhi Leonard will return.

It’s a total crapshoot with seemingly endless possibilities in the last month of the season, and you could basically choose your own adventure. Actually, that sounds fun. Or maybe just panic-inducing. Oh well, let’s do it anyway.

For the purposes of this game, we’ll say that Kawhi has a 50/50 chance of returning in the regular season. This might be optimistic in a year that feels like one big setback. Flip a coin and see if the Klaw comes back.

Tails: Kawhi remains on the sidelines.

Wow, you really blew this one. You had a 50/50 shot and absolutely duffed it. I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed. The season is by no means over, but the Spurs are going to have an uphill battle without their best player. Roll a die to see what happens.

1: The Spurs lose a whole bunch, and the season ends, and everyone is sad.

Yikes, this is not ideal. I mean, it’s understandable without their best player, but not what the silver and black we’re looking for. They beat the Kings and Lakers, but that’s it. Half of Spurs fans spend the next five months lighting prayer candles for Kawhi and attempting to erase this season from their brains, while the other half blame it on Danny Green on Twitter.

2: Spurs win 44+ games, miss the playoffs, and get a lottery pick.

In a Western Conference field this tough, some quality teams are not going to make the cut. The Timberwolves, Jazz, Spurs, Pelicans, Clippers, and Nuggets are all at least six games over .500, and two of those teams will miss the playoffs. The Kawhi-less Spurs make an admirable run but finish just short of the postseason, which might just be the worst place to be. The Spurs would get the 13th or 14th pick if they did miss the playoffs.

3: Spurs finish at least ten games over .500 and miss the playoffs anyway.

This one stings. The shorthanded Spurs had such a good run in spite of everything and really gave San Antonio hope, but on the last day of the regular season, they’re on the outside looking in by the slimmest of margins. On the bright side, they move even further down in the draft order and get a lottery pick. Wait, that’s bad? Brutal.

4: Spurs lose more than they win, but fall backward into the eighth seed.

It isn’t pretty, but the faltering Spurs stumble into the playoffs thanks to other teams performing worse. Coach Pop tells the assembled media how lucky the team is to have an opportunity to get disemboweled by the Rockets in the first round.

5: Spurs play .500 ball and slide into the bottom of the Western Conference playoff bracket.

San Antonio plays just well enough to earn their first round disembowelment by either the Rockets or Warriors.

6: Spurs get hot and roll into the middle of the pack.

Pop pushes all the right buttons and LaMarcus Aldridge shifts into maximum overdrive, averaging 30 and 10 over the final stretch of the season to lead the Spurs to 48+ wins. All of the role players are clicking, LaMarcus is a true alpha the way he was against the Timberwolves on Saturday, and anything can happen in the playoffs.

Heads: He’s baaaaack.

Whew, you magnificent son of a gun, you did it. Kawhi is back. The possibilities now range from an impossible underdog story come true to the most cataclysmic event imaginable. Roll a die to see what happens.

1: Leonard suffers awful season-ending injury.

DEAR GOD WHAT HAVE YOU DONE??? I want to vomit even typing this hypothetical scenario into existence, but if he comes back, it’s a risk. Maybe his quad is still bothering him, weakening his entire leg. Maybe he suffers one of the many random, catastrophic injuries that happen every day on basketball courts across the world. Either way, he might be out until the middle of next season, or worse. Roll again for the Kawhi-less possibilities up top, and knock on every wood surface you can reach.

2: Kawhi’s quad still isn’t right, and he shuts down for the rest of the season.

Kawhi returns but is clearly limited by the injury, and it’s time to cut his losses. This injury has bothered him for the better part of the last year, and if he still doesn’t feel great, playing on it means risking another setback. Put him back on the shelf to avoid scenario one, unplug him and plug him back in before next year, and roll again for the Kawhi-less possibilities up top.

3: Kawhi plays the rest of the season, but the Spurs miss the playoffs anyway.

The Spurs are just 5-4 with Kawhi on the court this year, and his return is not enough to get San Antonio into the playoffs. Maybe he completely throws off team chemistry, or maybe he just doesn’t have his best stuff. Whatever the reason, this last ditch effort falls short, and it’s on to next season.

4: Kawhi’s return stabilizes the Spurs enough to secure a seventh or eighth seed.

Kawhi comes back healthy and reasonably effective and helps San Antonio play .500 or better to get into the playoffs. Obviously, a first-round date with the Rockets or Warriors is less than ideal, but Leonard gives the Spurs a fighting chance.

5: Kawhi propels the Spurs to the middle of the pack.

Kawhi is his usual self, an unstoppable offensive force, and immovable defensive object. It looks like he hasn’t missed a beat, and San Antonio rides his fresh legs into a more favorable playoff matchup with momentum.

6: Kawhi goes absolutely nuts and carries the Spurs to 50 wins and the fourth seed.

Sweet lord, Kawhi is back and better than we ever thought possible. He is Kawhichael Jordan shooting laser beams out of his eyes, disintegrating opponents mid-crossover. Is that even legal? Probably not, but do you think the ref is gonna risk getting vaporized to make the call? Doubt it. Kawhi averages 75 points and wins MVP despite only playing 20 games.*

*This probably won’t happen


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