These are no longer those San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs, who are set to visit the Miami Heat on Saturday, won five NBA titles from 1999 to 2014, all under Gregg Popovich.
And although Popovich is still the coach, long gone are stars such as Tim Duncan, David Robinson and Kawhi Leonard.
This past June, the Spurs traded away their best player — Dejounte Murray — for draft picks, which was a clear sign that San Antonio is on a full-on rebuilding mode.
Popovich is still the coach. But he turns 74 in January, and it seems doubtful he will still be there when things get turned around.
The Spurs are tied with the Houston Rockets for the worst record in the Western Conference at 7-18. In fact, San Antonio snapped an 11-game losing streak by beating Houston on Thursday.
It was San Antonio’s first win since Nov. 11, marking the second-longest skid in Spurs history.
“This was the first game in a while that we were clicking defensively,” said Spurs 6-5 forward Keldon Johnson, who scored a game-high 32 points against Houston.
The Spurs have not been a resilient bunch this season, going just 1-15 when trailing after the first quarter.
Point guard Tre Jones, who is averaging 12.7 points, leads the Spurs in assists (6.8) and steals (1.5). Jakob Poeltl, who is averaging 12.9 points, leads San Antonio in rebounds (9.9).
Among San Antonio shooters who average more than two 3-point attempts per game, Devin Vassell (.418) and Doug McDermott (.416) lead in accuracy. Johnson (20.9) and Vassell (20.5) are the Spurs’ top two scorers.
Jones and Vassell are each 22, Johnson is 23, and rookie starter Jeremy Sochan is 19 — all part of the youth movement.
The Heat, meanwhile, are trying to win right now with veterans such as Kyle Lowry, 36, and Jimmy Butler, 33, in starting roles.
Despite its experience, Miami has struggled to find momentum this season, going just 2-3 in its past five games and 12-14 overall. But the Heat are coming off a 115-110 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday.
Heat center Bam Adebayo, who had 31 points and 10 rebounds against the Clippers — game highs in both categories — is optimistic Miami will get going soon.
“If we worry about ourselves,” he said, “I feel like we’re going to be alright.”
Butler leads Miami in scoring (21.3), assists (6.1) and steals (1.8). Adebayo is second in scoring (21.2) and first in rebounds (9.2). Tyler Herro is third in scoring (19.9), rebounds (6.7) and assists (4.2).
Lowry, who is fourth in scoring (14.4) and second in assists (6.0), missed Thursday’s game for rest purposes. He is expected to return on Saturday.
Caleb Martin, who has started 25 of Miami’s 26 games this season, has gone beneath the radar this season. Yet, he is averaging 11.3 points and leads the team in 3-point percentage (41.5).
Butler leads the Heat in free-throw attempts (7.3), and he makes 86.3 percent from the line.
–Field Level Media