The San Antonio Spurs are playoff-bound for the 21st year in a row

Yahoo Sports

As it turns out, one streak ending was enough for the San Antonio Spurs.

[NBA Playoffs Bracket Challenge: $1M for the perfect bracket]

Six days after losing their 33rd game of the 2017-18 season, ensuring that their string of 50-win campaigns would end after 18 years, the Spurs hosted the Sacramento Kings needing one more victory to punch their tickets to the postseason. It wasn’t easy — seemingly nothing has been for Gregg Popovich’s crew in a season that’s been much more about who hasn’t been on the floor than who has — but after sputtering to just 60 points through three quarters and trailing the lowly Kings with 6 1/2 minute to go, San Antonio finally got it going down the stretch.

You might recognize the guy who led them. He’s been doing this for a while.

Manu Ginobili scored or assisted on 14 of the Spurs’ final 23 points over the last 6 1/2 minutes on Monday, taking the reins when it counted and running the show to get San Antonio over the finish line. He turned back the clock with an emphatic dunk, and worked the drive-and-kick game he’s been mastering for centuries to find Patty Mills for a huge 3-pointer with 2:27 to go.

Two minutes after he slipped back-door for a layup off a dime by Rudy Gay that gave the Spurs a nine-point lead, the Spurs had officially finished off a 98-85 win and clinched San Antonio’s 21st consecutive postseason berth.

The 40-year-old Argentine legend finished with 17 points on 5-for-11 shooting, six rebounds, five assists and a steal in 27 minutes off the bench for the Spurs, who joined the Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans in clinching postseason slots on Monday. There are seven spots now spoken for out West, leaving the Minnesota Timberwolves and still-hanging-on Denver Nuggets vying for the last one in a race that will go down to the final day of the season.

For a minute there, it looked like a Spurs team that’s had to play 72 of its 81 games without two-time All-NBA First Team forward Kawhi Leonard might not make it to the second season. But thanks to the brilliant play of center LaMarcus Aldridge, a defense that has remained in the top five in points allowed per possession all year despite missing the two-time Defensive Player of the Year, a knack for taking care of home court that’s seen them go 33-8 at AT&T Center, and timely contributions from a deep bench, the Spurs have still by-hook-or-by-crooked their way to 47 wins to keep their postseason streak alive.

Just getting into the playoffs, of course, isn’t typically how the Spurs measure success. Sometimes, though, seasons get weird, and you’ve got to recalibrate a little bit. Here, let Manu explain:

Now that the Spurs know they’re in, the $64,000 question is who they’ll be playing come next weekend, and where. In the tangled mess that is the lower reaches of the Western Conference playoff picture, there’s still an awful lot that won’t be decided until the end of the final night of the regular season, meaning it’s still possible that the Spurs could host a playoff series … and that they could have to go on the road to take on the Houston Rockets:

Whatever their travel itinerary winds up being, the Spurs ensured on Monday that, for the 21st consecutive spring, a silver-and-black contingent will be part of the postseason festivities. How long they’ll last remains to be seen, but at least we know we’ll get another couple of weeks of Manu in our lives. We must’ve been good boys and girls this year.

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Dan Devine is a writer and editor for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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