Aldridge carrying Spurs into the playoffs

Abhishek Mukund

A little over a week remains of the NBA season. The offseason will begin immediately for the 14 teams who failed to make the playoffs. LeBron James, after making eight consecutive NBA finals, finds himself on one of those teams. The remaining 16 teams will begin the playoffs a few days later, despite almost everyone agreeing that the Warriors will be the eventual champions a month later. Why are we doing this again? 

Former Longhorn Kevin Durant was ejected early in the third quarter of Tuesday’s game after having a verbal altercation with a referee. The Warriors were up by 19 against the Denver Nuggets at the time of Durant’s ejection and would go on to win the game by a comfortable 14 points. The win should guarantee that the Warriors will retain the No. 1 seed in the West for the fourth time in five years. 

Myles Turner has played well for the Indiana Pacers, but the team has finally started to feel the loss of All-Star guard Victor Oladipo. The Pacers are 3–7 in their last 10 games and are limping into the playoffs in less than ideal form. They are currently the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference and would play the Boston Celtics if the playoffs started today. 

Meanwhile, Jarrett Allen and the Brooklyn Nets are dangerously close of falling out of the playoffs despite appearing to be a lock for the postseason just a few weeks ago. The Nets sit a mere half-game above the No. 8 seed Miami Heat, and only one game above the No. 9 seed Orlando Magic. Their remaining four games are the Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers and a crucial final game against the Miami Heat to close out the season. The Nets will either make the playoffs for the first time since the 2014-2015 season or head to the lottery with their own pick for only the second time in the same timespan. 

LaMarcus Aldridge 

he San Antonio Spurs were at risk of missing the playoffs for the first time in over two decades. The Spurs were 6–6 heading into the All-Star break and 0–3 after the break had finished. Both L.A. teams, as well as the Sacramento Kings, were in position to overtake the Spurs in the standings. 

But that was put to rest as the Spurs have been an incredible 12–5 since then. In that time frame, the Spurs had wins against the Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks — the three best teams this season. 

The biggest reason for the Spurs success this season has been Texas alumnus LaMarcus Aldridge, who is having one of his best seasons in his 13-year career. The numbers aren’t crazy — 21.2 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks on 51.6% from the field and 84.4% from the line. 

What has been impressive is Aldridge’s reliability. He has played every game thus far, the most since he was 25 in the 2010-2011 year. The Spurs have suffered injuries to every other starter this year, including season-ending injuries to starting point guard Dejounte Murray. 

The Spurs are guaranteed a playoff spot, but these remaining games will determine which seed they finish as.