The San Antonio Spurs season ended where it began on Wednesday night as the Spurs fell to the Grizzlies 100-96 at FedExForum in the Play-In Tournament.
With the win, the ninth-seeded Grizzlies will head on the road to battle the Warriors on Friday night. The winner of that game will be the eighth seed in the Western Conference. The Spurs defeated the Grizzlies in Memphis in their season-opener, but it was a different story on Wednesday night.
Grizzlies led by as many as 21 points in the first quarter and had a 38-19 lead at the end of one. However, San Antonio would close the gap in the second quarter and would trail 56-49 at halftime. San Antonio entered the fourth quarter trailing by seven but would take their first lead since the first quarter when DeMar DeRozan made a jump shot to take an 80-79 with over seven minutes to go. However, the Grizzlies would go on a 15-7 run to take control from there.
San Antonio missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season, which is the first time that happened in team history.
Even though San Antonio lost on Wednesday night, Gregg Popovich was happy with the team’s effort.
“No matter what the mistakes, no matter what the circumstances are, they really fight,” Popovich said. “That’s a good base. So, I’m really proud of the way they conducted themselves and played to win.”
The Spurs have some decent young players in Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker IV, Keldon Johnson, and according to rookie Devin Vassell, San Antonio has the talent to make noise for years to come.
“I think the sky’s the limit, honestly,” Vassell said after the game. “The young crew, the young core that we have; I mean we got talent, we got grit, we got hustle. We got all the making of a winning culture, and we’re all going to bond together; we’re going to stick together this summer. We’re going to push each other to get better each day. We’re going to come back with a vengeance next year.”
The Spurs are stuck in the middle right now. Too good to get a very good pick and not good enough to make the playoffs. DeMar DeRozan, 31, the team’s best player and closer, will be a free agent, so it will be interesting to see what happens there. This team is still looking for a star, and maybe one of the young guys can be that.
Also, Gregg Popovich is 72, so it should be interesting to see how many years he has left. The future is not bleak for the Spurs, and the team does have plenty of cap space(over $50 million), but San Antonio is not a major free agent destination, which could make things tricky.
San Antonio still has more work to do if they want to get back to the playoffs and be contenders in the Western Conference.