The Pandemic Could Keep the Spurs’ Playoff Streak Alive

The NBA has taken a big hit from the ongoing pandemic. But the coronavirus outbreak could help preserve one of the league’s greatest runs.

One of the Greatest Runs in Professional Sports

The San Antonio Spurs are having one of the greatest runs any team in professional sports has put together. The Spurs have made the playoffs in the last 22 seasons, the longest current streak in all of professional sports, and tied with the Syracuse Nationals for the longest ever in the history of the NBA.

But the Spurs’ 22-year-old playoff run may be more dominant than the Nationals’ streak. San Antonio won 69.9% of its games during this period, while Syracuse only had a winning percentage of 58.9% during their streak. The Silver and Black also won five NBA titles during this spell, while the Nationals captured only two over 22 years. 

During the Nationals’ 1950-71 postseason streak, the NBA had an average of 10.2 teams per season. On the other hand, there were already 30 teams in the league when the Spurs started their run. In the course of the Spurs’ playoff streak, they have won a total of 170 postseason games or an average of 7.7 playoff wins per year over the last 22 seasons.

Spurs Were on Shaky Ground

But the 2019-20 season proved to be challenging for Gregg Popovich and his team. Two games before the 2020 All-Star break, online betting sites pegged the Spurs at +450 to make the playoffs and -600 to miss the postseason. San Antonio entered the break with a 23-31 record or eight games below the .500 mark. That was their worst Pre-All-Star break record since the 1996-97 season, which was the last time they didn’t make the playoffs.

The Spurs were 27-36 when the season was suspended last March 11, 2020. They were in 12th place in the Western Conference team standings but were just four games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the 8th seed in the Western Conference. However, the Grizzlies weren’t the only team they were chasing, because the Blazers, Pelicans, and Kings also had better records than them.

San Antonio wasn’t yet eliminated from the playoffs when play was halted. They still had 19 games left to play in the regular season. However, the Spurs’ playoff streak was on shaky ground as they were only 4-5 since the All-Star break and 5-5 in their last 10 games before the suspension of play. If they continued to play mediocre basketball, then they would have missed the playoffs.

The Season Continues to Hang in the Balance

The fate of the 2019-20 NBA season continues to hang in the balance. Although the NBA has a “real interest” in finishing the season and crowning a champion, there is no telling when the coronavirus pandemic will end or even just slow down to a point where restrictions will be lifted. 

Last week, the NBA issued a memo setting a date that would allow teams to start reopening their practice facilities. That date has since been moved back for at least a week, with the league saying that the new timeline isn’t set in stone. 

No one wants to see the NBA season canceled. But if that happens, the San Antonio Spurs’ playoff streak will be preserved because there will be no postseason to miss.