The final buzzer sounded Thursday night with the Utah Jazz topping San Antonio 118-112, officially eliminating the Spurs from contention for a Western Conference play-in spot and ending their record-tying run of 22 consecutive postseason appearances. “It means a lot to a lot of people probably, but I don’t dwell on the past,” said legendary Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who captured five NBA titles during that span. “That stuff’s totally [not] important; what’s important is the moment you do what you’ve got to do then you move on, but looking at the past doesn’t do much good. Any success we’ve had has been because we’ve had some great players.”
The first game-worn jerseys from the NBA’s restart in Orlando have hit the auction block. NBA Auctions has launched a group of 58 jerseys from the league’s first few games in the “bubble” including those donned by LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Zion Williamson. Jerseys worn by members of the Lakers, Pelicans, Spurs and Nets are the first to reach the auction block from games played after the league stopped play in March due to COVID-19. Most of the jerseys are game-worn while a few were made for players who didn’t see action.
A lot of star power will be missing from Monday’s Utah Jazz matchup against the Dallas Mavericks, including Donovan Mitchell. The Jazz’s All-Star guard did not play in Friday’s back-to-back opener against the San Antonio Spurs due to a left lower leg peroneal strain, though he returned the next day to play against the Denver Nuggets. On Sunday night Mitchell was listed as questionable for the Jazz’s seeding game against the Mavericks with the same ailment and then downgraded to “out” on the team’s injury report Monday morning.
New Orleans, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio and Washington have felt it, too, because they all share such a narrow path to the playoffs. Once games began, on July 30, the competition injected a reality-show, “Survivor”-style desperation that has intruded upon strolls through the Yacht Club lobby, hallway encounters and community pool time among this sub-.500 sextet. “You’re rooting against everybody you see,” Frank Kaminsky of the Suns said. “At the end of the day, this is big for us. We need people to lose, and we want them to lose so we can get into position.” “Every day you see guys battling for the same spot as you,” Kent Bazemore of the Sacramento Kings said. “It’s cool, but when you play that same night, it’s kind of an awkward interaction.”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
The Spurs gave major minutes to three players — Keldon Johnson, Quinndary Weatherspoon, and Drew Eubanks — with no playoff experience, and Lonnie Walker IV, one of their best players on the season, just has six playoff games to his name. “This is all about development, I’ve said that from the beginning,” Popovich said. “The young guys, they get evaluated, we see them playing together and we get to determine how valuable they are in terms of the guys we want to move forward with.”
White, 26, a Popovich favorite who even found his way onto the Team USA roster Popovich coached in China last summer, despite more talented, accomplished players being available, recalled a meeting with Popovich as soon as White arrived in 2018. “Pop pulled me aside, tried to get me to believe in myself,” White said. “Hearing it from probably the greatest coach of all time, it definitely gives you a big confidence boost.” White said the Spurs “haven’t talked that much about the playoff streak,” but “obviously we know it’s there.” “We want to develop but we want to win,” White said.
Were those teams chasing the Western Conference’s play-in tournament thrilled with the Utah Jazz’s decision to sit four starters with injuries and rest center Rudy Gobert in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs? Among teams trying to catch the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth seed, they were somewhere between displeased and livid, sources said. The Jazz violated nothing of the league’s resting rules with Gobert, and properly documented injuries to four more starters, but the optics of the starting five sitting out in an eminently winnable game against the Spurs were harsh.

Gregg Popovich compares Nikola Jokic to Larry Bird

Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. became only the third rookie since 2000 to post consecutive 30-point double-doubles but it was Nikola Jokic who left Gregg Popovich feeling like he had just faced a Hall of Famer. “Porter is a fine young talent,” the San Antonio Spurs coach said. “And Jokic, he’s like a reincarnation of Larry Bird. He does everything. He’s amazing. They were great.”
A day after delivering a pre-game history lesson on racial injustice, Gregg Popovich dove into the topic once more on Monday. This time, the Spurs head coach told reporters that Hispanics have also been the victims of systematic racism in the United States. “Black and brown people are the two major groups that suffered these injustices,” Popovich said in a Zoom media session. “Obviously, the Black population, for hundreds of years. But our brown brothers and sisters have suffered the same discrimination in a lot of ways that reflect the same system that has created such inequality in wealth across the board for Black and brown peoples,” the coach said.