The Spurs have been the most consistent team in sports for two decades. The last time they had a losing season was 1996-97. That summer, they drafted some guy named Tim Duncan. Even before that, they were a consistent playoff team thanks to David Robinson. The last time the Spurs really went through a consistent down period was in the 1980s.
In all the Spurs' consistency, with every championship and playoff run, there was nothing that represented them better than their 18 consecutive seasons winning at least 50 games. This included a lockout-shortened season in 2011-12. On Tuesday, that streak was snapped at the hands of the Clippers.
Los Angeles defeated San Antonio 113-110. It came down to the closing moments, Lou Williams scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, and Manu Ginobili stepped out of bounds when attempting to tie the game. This victory not only will keep the Clippers in the playoff race, but it has clinched a season where the Spurs can not win 50 games.
Tobias Harris records 31 PTS, 9 REB and Lou Williams scores 15 in the 4th quarter!@LAClippers take it over @spurs 113-110 to keep their playoff hopes alive. #ItTakesEverything— NBA (@NBA) April 4, 2018
LaMarcus: 35 PTS, 9 REB, 3 BLK pic.twitter.com/cj6boVam9i
This was honestly one of the most impressive streaks in not just basketball, but sports as a whole. The consistency to win as often as the Spurs do is what many teams strive for. There's a reason their handprints are seen across the NBA as a whole in not only coaching circles, but front offices as well. The Spurs exist everywhere, because they are the model franchise.
Which also makes the circumstances of why this streak is ending so fascinating. It ends in a season when Kawhi Leonard can't get on the floor. The reason why seems to be a feud between Leonard and the Spurs on his health. Leonard has been cleared medically by the team to play, but he just left the team for the second time this season to continue rehab. The status of Leonard even led to a players-only meeting that was reportedly about Leonard.
Leonard was an MVP candidate last season, but this season he has been absent. Players like LaMarcus Aldridge have stepped up his absence, but this San Antonio team just doesn't have the same talent of previous teams. It needs a player like Leonard to carry them. Without him, they fall short of what they strive to be. Without Leonard, they fall short of 50 victories for the first time in 18 seasons.