Before the season, Kurt Helin and I did something ahistorical: We picked the Spurs to miss the playoffs.
Kawhi Leonard was gone. So were cogs Danny Green, Kyle Anderson, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. Dejounte Murray was out for the year.
I didn’t feel great about omitting San Antonio, but the Western Conference was crowded. There were more good teams than postseason spots. Someone had to get left out.
Of course, it wasn’t the Spurs.
The NBA’s most consistent winner qualified for the playoffs yet again. San Antonio clinched its 22nd straight postseason berth with the Kings’ loss to the Rockets on Saturday. That ties the Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers (1950-1971) for the longest playoff streak in NBA history.
Here are the longest postseason streaks of all-time:
San Antonio’s success is particularly impressive considering the era. The league is bigger than ever with 30 teams. Contracts are shorter than before. It’s so easy to have an off year.
Tim Duncan ensured the Spurs remained competitive for so long. Lately, Gregg Popovich has gotten enough star production from LaMarcus Aldridge then gotten everyone else on the same page. San Antonio just avoids mistakes and keeps chugging.
Nobody else now even nears the Spurs’ playoff longevity. Their playoff streak is more than three times longer than any other current streak:
Of course, people could again predict the Spurs to miss the playoffs next year. I even might. Weighted by playing time, they have the NBA’s second-oldest team (behind only the Rockets). The West will likely remain tough. They could easily drop.
But it will always be uneasy picking against this model of consistency.
Believe me, I know.