SAN ANTONIO – An historically different season left the San Antonio Spurs in an unusual position for the postseason—without one, for the first time in 23 seasons.

What You Need To Know

  • Record-tying run of 22 consecutive postseason appearances ended Thursday

  • Both Grizzlies and Suns won their games Thursday, knocking Spurs out

  • Longest active postseason streak now belongs to the Houston Rockets

  • Gregg Popovich proud of how his young team developed in 8 games

San Antonio’s record-tying run of 22 consecutive postseason appearances ended Thursday, with the Spurs being eliminated for a spot in the Western Conference play-in series.

The team was officially out of contention when Memphis beat Milwaukee, and Phoenix completed an undefeated eight-game run with a win over Dallas. Those games went final shortly before San Antonio suited up to play the Utah Jazz in their final scheduled game of the NBA’s bubble play in Orlando.

The Spurs needed the Grizzlies or the Suns to lose to have any chance of getting into the West play-in series that begins Saturday to decide the NBA’s final postseason berth.

What Were the Defining Moments of this Game?

San Antonio’s young core got the chance to step out big in this game, already knowing their fate when the clock would run out. Head coach Gregg Popovich let big scorers like DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay and Derrick White sit out and enjoy this final game from the sidelines.

Keldon Johnson scored 24 points to lead seven Spurs in double figures. Marco Belinelli and Luka Samanic each had 16 for San Antonio.

In the end, the Jazz were able to pull away with Rayjon Tucker scoring 18 points and to beat the Spurs 118-112 in the seeding-game finale for both teams. Jarrell Brantley added 13 for the Jazz and Donovan Mitchell had 11 points in 11 minutes.

How Did the Spurs Achieve 22 Consecutive Postseasons?

Popovich lead the way for the Spurs historical run.

NBA commissioner David Stern wasn’t even halfway through his 30-year tenure when the streak started. The Charlotte Bobcats (today’s Hornets) were still 6.5 years from playing their first game and Pat Riley was still coaching the Los Angeles Lakers.

Now, for the first time since 1981, the playoffs will happen without either Riley or Popovich as head coaches.

San Antonio won five championships during the streak. They played 284 postseason games over those years; the only franchises within 100 of that were the Lakers (218), Miami (196) and Boston (192). And the Spurs won 170 playoff games in that span; only seven franchises have more playoff wins in their entire history.

All 170 of those wins for the Spurs came under Popovich, a total that gives him more career playoff victories than any two current coaches combined. There were 102 players who got into at least one Spurs playoff game during the streak, including current NBA head coaches Jacque Vaughn, Steve Kerr and Monty Williams.

The 22-year run of playoff spots tied the Philadelphia 76ers’ franchise for the longest in NBA history. The 76ers, starting as the Syracuse Nationals before moving to Philadelphia, went to the playoffs every year from 1950 through 1971.

With San Antonio out, the longest active postseason streak now belongs to the Houston Rockets. They’ll be in the playoffs for the eighth consecutive year starting next week.

What’s Next for San Antonio?

The Spurs came into Disney as playoff long shots and used the eight games they were promised in the NBA restart to exercise their young talent. That enthusiasm for competition allowed them to play until the very last possible day of contention.

“At this point, it’s been a huge success for our team and our young players, the development that we’ve talked about from the beginning,” Popovich said. “We’re very happy with what’s gone on here.”

The NBA 2020-21 season is expected to tip off in December.