SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs have not only had the luxury of making the playoffs the past 20 years but also the enjoyment of holding the NBA record of 18 consecutive seasons of winning 50 or more games.
This year, however, the Spurs are teasing fans with the possibility of breaking the 50-plus win streak that was started one year removed from winning the team’s first-ever NBA championship.
In that same ’98-’99 season, it is worth noting that the last time the Spurs won fewer than 50 games was during a shortened lockout season when San Antonio finished 37-13.
Despite the league being hit with another shortened season 12 years later, the Spurs still managed to collect a 50-16 record in 2011-12 to keep the streak alive.
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But according to FiveThirtyEight.com, a website owned by ESPN that focuses heavily on statistics for a variety of categories, the streak of 50 or more wins for the Silver and Black is predicted to end this season.
The Spurs are projected by FiveThirtyEight.com to end the 2017-18 regular season with a 47-35 record.
With Spurs superstar Kawhi Leonard reportedly medically cleared to play but electing to stay out, the website predicts San Antonio will make the playoffs for the 21st time and finish fourth in the Western Conference.
If the playoffs were to start Friday, the Spurs would get home court advantage in the first round against known rivals Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
For fans who are still holding onto championship hopes, FiveThirtyEight.com projects the Spurs have a 4 percent chance of making the NBA finals this year and a 2 percent chance of actually winning the title.
Given the FiveThirtyEight.com projections, the Spurs (35-24) will have to post a 15-8 record in order to continue the streak of 50 or more games.
The road to extending the streak, especially without Kawhi, will not be easy for the Spurs as they head into the toughest part of this year’s schedule.
Eighteen of the Spurs' final 23 opponents this season are currently over .500.
That gauntlet includes games against Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City and the surging Washington Wizards twice.
The Spurs continue the Rodeo Road Trip Friday at 8 p.m. CT in Denver against the Nuggets.