SAN ANTONIO – Never has there been more ironclad proof that nothing lasts forever than what apparently will happen this season to the San Antonio Spurs.
Them not making the NBA playoffs, which looks inevitable at this point, means nothing is automatic. The sun rising in the east, dogs as best friends and sportswriters being first in the buffet line will someday no longer be absolutes.
It’s one of the surprising storylines in the NBA this season. The Spurs are 26-36 going into their home game with the Mavericks on Tuesday. They are five games behind Memphis for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
They aren’t flatlined yet. But the life-support apparatus is working overtime.
How absurd is this? The Spurs have made the playoffs 22 consecutive years. Luka Doncic was not born the last time the Spurs were in the lottery, which just happened to be the Tim Duncan lottery.
Mostly, Duncan was a constant during their incredible run, along with sidekicks like David Robinson, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
To show how things have changed for the Spurs, a Mavericks’ victory on Tuesday would give them a 4-0 record against San Antonio this season and would be their first series sweep in franchise history over the I-35 rivals.
Still, at least one Maverick who has close connections with the Spurs isn’t ready to write them off.
“They lost some games they probably shouldn’t have – just like us,” said Boban Marjanovic, whose career started with his rookie season in San Antonio in 2014-15.“But they fight. They will always fight. You play against them, you see them as a playoff team. But other teams are so good.
“You never count nobody out. They still have a chance to make the playoffs.”
Marjanovic said the legacy of Duncan, now an assistant to Gregg Popovich, is something that he won’t forget.
“My first year, to be around him and Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili – all these players left a big history behind,” Marjanovic said. “And it’s nice to be part of that.”
Injury update: The Mavericks will be down to 10 players against the Spurs – if they’re lucky.
Five players have been ruled out and didn’t make the trip to San Antonio: Jalen Brunson (shoulder), Seth Curry (ankle), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (illness), Dwight Powell (Achilles) and Willie Cauley-Stein (illness).
Dorian Finney-Smith (hip) is questionable. If he cannot play, it would reduce the number of healthy players to nine.
NBA admits one missed call: The league’s last two minute report for the Mavericks’ 112-109 loss to Indian cited one missed call.
It came with 1:32 to play when Luka Doncic drove for a layup, which was blocked by Myles Turner blocked. The report said it was an incorrect non-call and that Turner made contact with Doncic’s wrist, causing him to lose control of the ball.
The Mavericks were up 109-108 at the time and they turned over the ball when they inbounded the ball after the block.