The San Antonio Spurs clinched their 23rd playoff berth in the last 24 seasons with a 92-91 win over the Dallas Mavericks Thursday. Tim Duncan led the Spurs to their 50th win of the season with 28 points and a whopping 19 rebounds.
The Spurs have made the NBA playoffs in every season since drafting Tim Duncan 16 years ago. The story won’t change this year, as San Antonio has quietly controlled the Western Conference yet again.
The Spurs have been playing without star point guard Tony Parker due a left-ankle injury, making Tim Duncan’s performance Thursday that much more important. Parker is expected to miss another two weeks.
Kawhi Leonard scored 12 points and added six rebounds for the Spurs, while Tiago Splitter had eight points and 10 rebounds. The Spurs led by nine at the half and as much as eight points within the final minutes of the game before holding on to beat the Mavericks.
11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Nowitzki scored with 28 seconds left in the game to cut the Spurs lead to one.
Manu Ginobili missed a jumper on the next Spurs possession and gave Dallas a chance to win with eight seconds left. Vince Carter put up a three-pointer with a second to play that clanked off the rim, sealing the Spurs 14th consecutive 50-win season.
Tim Duncan dominated on the boards all night, but wasn’t too excited after the game about the way his team played against Dallas.
“We’re going through a section of time here where we’re not playing the greatest basketball obviously,” Duncan said after the win. “We don’t have the best rhythm right now.”
The Spurs lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday before clinching a playoff spot Thursday. San Antonio has lost two of their last four games and look to get back on track after beating the Mavericks.
Dallas is currently three games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Mavericks streak of 12 consecutive playoff appearances is in jeopardy after a poor start to the season.
San Antonio beat Dallas in all four meetings this season, finishing them off in the closest game of the season series. The Spurs aren’t a flashy team and you can credit that to Tim Duncan’s calm leadership on and off the court. Nevertheless, the Spurs clinch a playoff spot and continue to hold the top spot in the Western Conference.