The San Antonio Spurs won just 15 of their first 71 games this season. Thanks to a 123-95 victory vs. the Detroit Pistons, San Antonio won nearly half that many in their last eleven contests. While many point out that their 22-60 record costs them at a chance at the best odds to win the NBA Draft Lottery (the three worst records each come with a 14% chance), the Spurs believe this last stretch will prove key next season.

“It helps us a lot,” guard Blake Wesley said. “As you saw the other night and then [vs the Pistons], it’s big. We grew throughout the year, even through the ups and downs. We still continued to play great, play hard and just be ourselves and be great teammates.”

“It's certainly not a bad sign, so let's call it a good sign,” Gregg Popovich, whose teamed finished fifth-worst league wide, said.

Shorthanded Spurs thrived down the stretch

San Antonio Spurs guard Blake Wesley (14) drives to the basket while defended by Detroit Pistons guard Jaden Ivey (23) during the second half at Frost Bank Center.
Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Making the Spurs' run to end the season more improbable were the all their injuries. They were without Devin Vassell, Jeremy Sochan, Keldon Johnson and Cedi Osman. Malaki Branham missed the team's last two games while super rookie Victor Wembanyama did not play the season finale out of caution because of a nagging ankle injury.

“Eight guys scored in double figures, and we had 33 assists. They play hard, they play for each other,” Popovich said of the final win vs. Detroit. “That's why I've said all the things I've said all year about them. So, no need to repeat. But it's a hell of a good group.”

“Oh yeah, for sure. You go out here [and] get the win, it feels great,” Wesley added of a contest that started at 2:30 CT time. “Early game. Now you can go home, spend time with your family and just rest. It feels great.”

The 28-point victory vs. the Pistons not only punctuated a good last two weeks for San Antonio but also continued their improved play since the All-Star break.

“It says a lot. We grew from all those things,” Wesley admitted. “I remember when he [Popovich] first showed us we were in the bottom. Then, he showed us the other day and we were in like the top-15 and top-20. So, it’s a big improvement for us. Makes us happy, it makes us want to grow more and continue to put on the pressure.”

“It was a good end to the season, for sure,” guard Tre Jones said. “We were playing better and better throughout the entire year. Each month we were getting better as a team and as a whole and playing more and more like the way we wanted to play offensively and defensively.”

“Obviously, the win the other night was a huge one and then to come out and play well again, I think it just goes to show all the work that we’ve been putting in all year,” Jones continued, alluding to Friday's come from behind victory vs. the champion, Denver Nuggets. “We continued to stay together, not get too down and just continue to go through all the tough times together and continue to grow.”