Wednesday , Jan , 30 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

Projecting the Western Conference Playoff Seedings and Addressing the Concerns of the San Antonio Spurs

Projecting the Western Conference Playoff Seedings and Addressing the Concerns of the San Antonio Spurs

For a long time, I have refused to acknowledge that the Spurs were having any issues that needed to be addressed.  I’ve just seen them pull through too many times to ever count them out.  And I still don’t – even after dropping three in a row, including last night’s loss to the Seattle Supersonics. 

It was a rather ugly loss for San Antonio.  Manu Ginobli jacked up a three-point attempt (with his toe on the line) that wasn’t even close to seal the loss.  The possession before that, he passed to a cutting Fabricio Elson for the brick.  Tim Duncan was, actually, on the floor.  I can’t imagine that play was drawn up for Elson, unless Pop was worried that the Hack-A-Duncan Defense would be his team’s undoing.

All that said, though, the Spurs were on the second night of a back-to-back (after losing to Utah) against a team targeting this game as their playoffs.

The Spurs come into Phoenix tomorrow night in another low-pressure situation.  Tony Parker is going to sit out the Phoenix match-up yet again, and Phoenix is jacked-up coming off their 33-point thrashing of the Atlanta Hawks.  If Phoenix wins, they were expected to do and if Phoenix loses it merely shows the Spurs’ resiliency and the Suns’ lack thereof.

Is there concern in San Antonio?  Yes, but that’s what the writers and paid to do, and fans will be fans.

As I continue to be fascinated by the surging Hornets, the indomitable Chris Paul and the lack of attendance in New Orleans, I was considering the playoffs.  The top two teams in the Southwest Division are New Orleans and Dallas.  The NBA playoff seedings require that the winner of the Northwest Division (Utah, Denver or Portland) be in the top four.  That leaves one other spot for the second team in the Pacific Division (currently, the Lakers) or the second team in the Southwest.  It is a very real possibility that San Antonio is in the bottom half of the playoff seedings.  When was the last time that happened?

San Antonio currently sits 6th in the conference and if the season plays out as it appears it might, the Spurs are going to have a rough road to get to 5th spot.  Right now, Dallas and San Antonio meet in the first round.  There’s a long way to go, but unless San Antonio gets into the 5th spot, they are likely going to be facing Phoenix, Dallas or New Orleans in the first round – all teams they have lost to.  They will likely be in good shape if they get that 5th seed and play against the Northwest winner, but what if they do not?  If the Lakers survive their time without Bynum, they are going to make a strong push for that position.

Does this matter?  Can the Spurs turn it on and make a run even from the bottom half of the bracket?  I’m still not willing to discount the Spurs, but something needs to change sooner rather than later.