The Spurs aren’t the only team that knows how to put together a winning streak in San Antonio.
The Los Angeles Clippers did it last spring in the playoffs, and they get the first crack this week at ending the Spurs’ 41-game regular-season run at home. If San Antonio wins that one, Golden State might get a shot later this week at trying to end the third-longest home winning streak in NBA history.
The Warriors arrive for a nationally televised Super Saturday matchup in prime time, but even the NBA champions know little about winning in San Antonio. They have lost 32 straight regular-season games there and have never beaten Tim Duncan in the regular season, as their most recent victory, on Feb. 14, 1997, was a few months before he was drafted with the No. 1 pick.
San Antonio could tie Chicago for the second-longest streak in NBA history by sweeping the Clippers on Tuesday, Portland on Thursday and Golden State on Saturday. The Spurs beat the Clippers at home earlier this season, but the Clippers got them twice when it really mattered in ending the Spurs’ title defense.
Los Angeles won Games 4 and 6 at the AT&T Center in a memorable first-round series before knocking the Spurs in Game 7 at home.
The Spurs, who beat Oklahoma City at home on Saturday and are 3 ½ games behind the Warriors for the NBA’s best record, are embracing the challenges they will get this week.
“This is the best time of the year. These are the best tests that we can have to prepare us for the playoffs,” guard Danny Green said after Saturday’s victory. “Joking with (newly signed) Kevin Martin earlier, he thought he was going to come in and get some warmup games, but it’s probably the toughest part of the schedule for us and he’s thrown into the fire. So, good luck.”
For the first time in two decades, Jason Kidd isn’t in a playoff race heading into the final month of the season.
He never missed the postseason again as a player after 1996, his second year in the league, and made it in his first two seasons as a coach. His Milwaukee Bucks appear too far back to overcome their slow start, but the growth of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Khris Middleton is keeping him motivated.
“There’s a lot of stuff that as a coach you can get better at, and that’s the motivation is to get better as a coach,” Kidd said. “But help the young guys develop and get better each time they take the floor.”
Things to watch this week:
HOT HORNETS: Five years after leading Connecticut to the NCAA championship, Kemba Walker is having another memorable March. The Hornets are 7-0 this month, their longest winning streak since March 2002, and the point guard is averaging 28.6 points during that span.
MARCH MADNESS MATCHUP: Brad Stevens vs. Billy Donovan sounds like a good NCAA Tournament matchup — and it was. Stevens’ Butler team beat Donovan’s Florida squad in overtime to reach the 2011 Final Four. They meet again Wednesday in the pros as the Celtics host Oklahoma City.
SEEKING 60: The Warriors will already reach the 60-win mark if they beat former assistant coach Alvin Gentry and New Orleans on Monday. That would also extend their NBA-record home winning streak to 49.
WADE 20K: Dwyane Wade missed Miami’s loss in Toronto on Saturday with a thigh injury. When he does return, he needs 43 points to become the ninth active player and 41st overall with 20,000 points.
STAT LINE OF THE WEEK: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks: 28 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds Sunday in a 109-100 victory at Brooklyn. In his fourth triple-double in 11 games, Antetokounmpo had 12 points, nine assists and eight rebounds at halftime, nearly becoming the first player with a triple-double in a half since his coach, Jason Kidd, did it for Dallas on Feb. 26, 2010.