AT&T CENTER – Prior to their March 20 home game against the Miami Heat, the San Antonio Spurs had won 9 of 10 games and their defense was a key part of their success during that stretch.
Then, the Spurs had held 9 of 10 opponents below 110 points in a game. Asked before the game about their turnaround on defense, Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich mentioned that the Spurs were playing better defense at the time, though he wanted to see how long it would continue.
“We did it a couple of months ago for about 10-12 games in the same way, and then, it went away,” said Popovich of the Spurs playing better defense prior to the Heat game.
“So, it’s just a matter of the group trying to find consistency more than anything. We’ve been up and down in that area – we’re able to score a little bit, we’ll have a bad night every now and then, but we can usually score. We have played consistent defense, we’ll see if it continues.”
Right after Popovich said those words about seeing if the consistency on defense would continue, the team has once again been a roller coaster on that end of the floor and the defense is slipping.
The Spurs have allowed 5 of their last 6 opponents to score 110 or more points and the bad defense has impacted their success on winning games. The Spurs are 2-4 during that stretch, with their latest loss coming to the Sacramento Kings at home.
The San Antonio Spurs’ defense has dropped to 12th in their last 6 games, allowing teams to score 111.8 points per 100 possessions. One of the Spurs’ best areas of their defense all season has been not putting opponents on the free throw line.
This has turned into an issue for San Antonio in the last 6 games though, where opponents have made 19.8 free throws per 100 field goal attempts, ranking San Antonio 18th in opponent free throw rate.
The other issue for the Spurs right now is that their offense has been struggling lately. The Spurs are scoring just 112.7 pp/100 during the last 6 games, ranking them 16th during that stretch.
They’ve seen a decline at the free throw line, where they’re only making 13.4 free throws per 100 field goal attempts, ranking them 29th in free throw rate over the last 6 games.
The Spurs’ reliance on their accuracy from the above-the-break three is also failing them at the moment. Typically, the Spurs knock down 38.5% of their above-the-break threes, ranking them 2nd overall in accuracy from that area. In the last 6 games though, they’re shooting just 31.6% from that area (26th ranking).
Derrick White is having a rough stretch on offense over the last six games, where he’s shooting 26% from the floor and average just 6.8 points per game. With White struggling to score, Bryn Forbes and Marco Belinelli have each had to contribute around 13 points per game during the last six games.
With the Spurs struggling on both ends of the floor right now, they have just five games left to try to figure out their issues. Four of their last five opponents are below .500, but wins right now aren’t guaranteed even against those minus .500 teams.
As they’ve played like a roller coaster all season, where will the Spurs’ cart continue to trend in these last five games? Upward with progress on both ends, or downward with time winding down before round one of the playoffs begins?
Statistics via NBA.com and CleaningTheGlass.com