The Numbers Behind 20 Straight

What the San Antonio Spurs have done over the last 49 days is unprecedented. Their 20-game winning streak is tied for the the third longest in NBA history. And it has stretched 10 games into the postseason, when the stakes are higher and the competition is tougher. (The NBA record for the hottest start to a playoff run is 11 straight, pulled off by the 1988-89 Lakers.)

Of course, you don’t win 10 straight postseason games without playing well on both ends of the floor. The Spurs have been a terrific offensive team all year, leading the league by scoring 108.5 points per 100 possessions in the regular season. But their defense has improved in the playoffs and they’ve taken their offensive efficiency to a new level over the course of the last 20 games…

Spurs efficiency

Games Wins Losses Pace OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg
First 56 40 16 94.5 106.9 101.2 +5.7
Last 20 20 0 96.5 113.7 97.5 +16.2

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions

The Spurs aren’t rebounding any better and they have actually been turning the ball over more. They’re getting to the line a little more often, but the biggest difference offensively has been their shooting from the field…

Spurs offense

Span 2PT% 3PT% OREB% TO% FTA Rate
First 56 49.9% 38.8% 24.6% 14.0 .255
Last 20 54.0% 41.7% 24.9% 15.0 .299

OREB% = Percentage of available offensive rebounds obtained
TO% = Turnovers per 100 possessions

The shooting has been incredible from both inside the arc and beyond it. And it has improved from every area except the corners…

Spurs field goal percentage

Span Restricted Area Paint (Non-RA) Mid-Range Corner 3 Above the Break 3
First 56 62.0% 41.5% 39.3% 42.3% 37.3%
Last 20 66.2% 43.1% 42.9% 41.8% 42.0%

The biggest key in the restricted area has been the health of Manu Ginobili, who has shot an incredible 47-for-61 (77 percent) from the restricted area during the winning streak. Tim Duncan, meanwhile, has been shooting close to 50 percent (44-for-92) from mid-range over the last 20 games.

The improvement from beyond the arc has really come from three guys. Danny Green (21-for-47, 45 percent), Gary Neal (21-for-37, 57 percent) and Boris Diaw (11-for-16, 69 percent) have all been on fire on above-the-break 3s during the streak.

The Spurs need those guys to make shots, but their offense comes from the system more than the players within it. And there are two obvious system-based keys to the Spurs’ shooting success.

One, of course, is ball movement, which was on full display in Game 2 of the conference finals Tuesday. During the streak, more than 61 percent of the Spurs’ buckets and more than 84 percent of their 3-pointers have been assisted.

The second is shot selection. And it has clearly helped that the Spurs have cut down on their mid-range shots, the least efficient shots on the floor. Over the first 56 games, they attempted 25.7 percent of their shots from mid-range, which is well below the league average of 30.3 percent. But they’ve cut that number down to just 22.7 percent during the streak.

Though he’s not one of the team’s stars, Green might just be the best example of why the Spurs are so good offensively. Less than 12 percent of his shots during the streak have come from mid-range, and 91 percent (64-of-70) of his buckets over the last 20 games have been assisted (by, incredibly, 12 different teammates).

The Spurs have actually been at their best offensively when Green is on the floor. They’ve scored an incredible 118.3 points per 100 possessions and outscored their opponents by almost 28 per 100 in his 424 minutes during the streak.


  1. LA40 says:

    Splitter was also draft pick, however he played over seas for 6 years prior to joing the spurs, but the spurs held the rights to him and now Hes coming through bigtime now. @ Realist1234

  2. Brad says:

    Agree with Aces…good, solid, team basketball being played by the whole roster with full understanding of a genuine SYSTEM. They just run soooooooooo many isolations don’t they! Ha! I won’t make predictions (Wade and James are ridiculously good players and can just about win any game when on fire, and I can’t disrespect the Celts or OKC) but as a longtime Mavs fan I would love to see the Heat get rolled in the finals by a solid, genuine ball movement system AGAIN! It’s a beautiful game when played this way.

  3. loi says:

    basketball is played as a team, not by three or two..start in basic then add some chemistry..this ingredient is in a Spurs don’t need to make 40 or 50 points, coz everyone can make a point and be productive..i think the best word fits for the champion is TEAMWORK:D

  4. Ozman says:

    Numbers don’t win championships fool zzz Lebrun does, good luck spurs when u run into the freight tran!!! Booyahhhhh buddy!

  5. PJC says:

    The only difference between the Spurs this year and the previous two years is depth. They’ve had some decent rotation players like Antonio McDyess, Roger Mason and Matt Bonner, but nothing like they do now. Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard start, with Boris Diaw, Stephen Jackson, Gary Neal, Pat Mills, and Tiago Splitter coming off the pine (along with the great Manu Ginobili, of course). DeJuan Blair used to be kind of a part-time starter, and now he’s a bench player. Ridiculous. When they lost Manu last year, they had no adequate replacement.

  6. Rach says:

    I love Stats, I love this game! Go Spurs!

  7. Z says:

    Man…this team is amazing. I honestly thought at the beginning of the season they had nothing left in the tank. Boy was I wrong. They play great team basketball and they share the rock. No one player is above the team. They play within Pops system, the bench comes in and gives them a spark, especially Manu, and the way the ball never stops moving is breathtaking. I can’t believe these guys aren’t talked about more because these guys are definitely the best team in the NBA. I’m a Laker fan and even if we got past OKC (which we probably should have had it not been for our bench disappearing, Pau’s play, and Mike Brown not having a system which cost us games 3,4,and 5) we would not have been able to watch this team. I grew up hating the Spurs when the Lakers battled them but my god this team is too good. I can’t help but root for them with the way they handle themselves on and off the court. Good Luck to the Spurs and you guys deserve the title this year!


    wow when its all done the heat fans will still be waiting for not 1 not 2 not 3 not 4 not 5 not 6 not 7 but 8 rings that lbj promised. hah should have been more humble and not say stupid stuff likr pat riley could be our point gaurd. idiot lbj loser ville will be on your resume after you retire. duncan cant sell shoes but you cant buy his 4 rings either spurs team ball better than any 2 man or 3 man game. nuff said spurs bringing the nasty. 120 points game 2 boaring at least thats what all the sports gurus say. i say GO SPURS GO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. The Master says:

    As a Laker fan I know how it feels to see my team on big winning streaks! There’s no feeling like that! Especially when they are doing it in the playoffs! I think history is behind San Antonio here! I believe they are gonna win it all! It’s been a while since I’ve seen such offensive excellence! The ball movement, spacing of the floor, and Duncan’s inside game is amazing!

  10. exstacy says:

    Really Amazing! The Spurs show the world the beauty of basketball game. Unselfish, respectful and humble players; smart and caring coach; good management – this is “SAN ANTONIO SPURS”,

  11. Chris Velazquez says:

    I hate u, but got to say that you are absolutely right. I believe that Coach P is not only the best coach at the moment, but frankly the best ever because he has created a team with many good players, and made them great not like Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Jerry Sloan or Lenny Wilkins whom even knowing Sloan and Wilkins didnt have All Star teams like Jackson (Bulls n Lakers) or Riley (Lakers), neither of them won has many titles or games like Coach P while only having Duncan as a truly All Star. I do not understand how its that some NBA teams release very good players (like Jackson, Diaw, Green and others that the Spurs seems to always select) because those are the guys that make you win games, those are the ones that allow you to have a team with very good players in the starting line up, but then when you look at the bench you basically have the same guy substituing one for the other and dominating the game. Kudos for the Spurs organization on that, an even knowing OKC is still too young and will be the team to be in the future, they need more than Harden on the bench to be able to support the starting cast, you dont win championships with 3 All Star players (sorry Miami but u guys dont stand a chance vs the Spurs) but u win with 1 or 2 All stars, surrounded by 7 or 8 people that knowns and understand the game of basketball.

  12. TDallthewayacrossthesky says:

    anyone esle find it funny that when the thunder did the hack-a-splitter he shot better at the line than before lol

  13. Reno says:

    Yeah … and there’s no reason why the Spurs can’t be even better next season – now that the roster has filled out nicely.

  14. shinzen says:

    The Spurs are the best example of team work, fair-play, mutual respect and modesty against bling bling…And wow…This team plays an amazing basketball !…Go Go Spurs !!!

  15. Spurs Fan says:

    Personally, i dont care for all the people jumping on the bandwagon. No one cared for the Spurs before. Even now the Spurs gets a 30 sec segment while the Knicks, Lakers, Heat etc.. gets a half hour. Just leave us be while we make history, the Spurs will go down in the books as one of the best to teach kids in another 20 years.

  16. AlleyOopNazi says:

    30-1 spurs go 16-0 in playoffs, tempting

  17. san says:

    An europe team with nba players…

  18. David Wright says:

    LOLakers..ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.. miami win?.. you funny son.. you know any more jokes

  19. Ivander says:

    I love it how the world will finally be forced to watch the Spurs play! They won’t be able to ignore them any longer…can’t wait!!!

  20. Luigi says:

    This is good for the Heat, and especially Lebron James. If the Spurs beat them in the Finals, people will say, “Well, yeah, they lost to the incredible Spurs. There was no way any team could beat them.” And if the Heat win, if will certainly have to come from jaw-dropping, never-before-seen play from Lebron and Wade, and which will kill,once and for all, any doubt anyone ever had about Lebron not being one of the all time greats.

  21. Ti Brown says:

    Now I know mathematically why the Spurs bandwagon is so inviting. It’s good when you can prove cliches with numbers: “They play well together”, “They are well coached”, “They are feeding off of each other”. In short, Chemistry proven by math. Pretty freakin awesome.

  22. Andrew says:

    Its their Destiny to be a Dynasty,Coach of the Year! The Big Fundamental,Tony Parker and last but not least (my fav) Manu Ginobili….THE FUNDAMENTAL TEAM!!!!GO SPURS GO

  23. Einar says:

    You will appreciate the Spurs’ basketball not on how they make highlights on the game but on how they make the ball go round and round around the whole team. I never thought simple basketball of Spurs will defeat tough teams in NBA. Go Spurs!

  24. Kev says:

    Go Spurs Go!

  25. Carthy says:

    The Spurs have had the talent before, they’ve had the game plan before. This year’s Spurs have a mental toughness I don’t think they’ve had before, though: never a letdown, never losing games they shouldn’t lose. In addition to the 20 game (and running) win streak, they also had 2 11-game win streaks earlier in the season. And after a 12-9 start (which is still pretty good), they’ve gone 48-7 since. As a fan, I would sure hate to see them not win a championship after that kind of year.

  26. LOLakers says:

    Enjoy the streak now before Miami hands you four losses in a row! This “team” is too old to compete against the Heat’s lightning fast players! Maybe they should play shuffleboard instead LOL!

    • DRKGBL96 says:

      @LOLakers…man check your facts…Youre looking at Duncan and calling the team old…while Ginobli and Duncan are old…most of the team is under the age of 30 save 4 players…as far as the Heat…theyve proven they can be beat convincingly…dont count on a cake walk…Personally I hope the heat lose simply because they tried to stack a team and win a title…do it like every other team aside from the lakers…LEGITIMATELY! The Spurs have maintained their core while winning…The lakers had to add shaq and got lucky with Kobe and made an illegal trade to get Gasol to win…and the Heat won with Shaq…thats why I liked dalls and detroit…they won with what they had…they were true to the game and respected the game..Princesses james doesnt respect the game

      • DRKGBL96 says:

        Look at it this way…the city of Chicago loved Jordan and made sure they took care of him just like SA did for Robinson and Duncan…had james stayed in Cleveland they probably would have a championship by now…but arrogance gets you no where my friend

      • ArgentinianLakerFun says:

        i knew that lakers lost when we lose lamar, ok. we’ve no chance since. i agree with you DRKGBL96. i like bryant, a lot. but los spurs are the greatest team of the year, and probably get 4-0 vs okc. tonight by 5 points and saturday by -5 points. close game between those teams, but the best on the floor will win the game and the series. i think this playoffs will be remember for all times, SA RECORD COULD BE 16-0. I hope that. sorry for my bad english… xD

    • BFoulds says:

      Haters gon hate.

      LeBron ain’t winning this year. Sorry fanboi

    • Sam says:

      LOL! Lightning fast? Oh watch out every body, here comes the blazing fast udonis haslem and mike miller. Get out of here scrub, before you get dunked on like serge ibaka. Old my @$$! XD

    • Einar says:

      @LOLakers: You’re supporting a team that has a player that forgot what discipline is? They’ll never get a Championship trophy if they will act like that. I don’t like the attitude of some players of Miami Heat. That’s why they had recent rough games.

    • spurs20 says:


    • crazy_ghost says:

      kobe/lakers worshipper,,,i thought you gone fishing but instead of fish you got frogs all over the staples center,,,should be now called staples frog center in addition by the clippers got also a lot of frogs!!!
      lebron james has still the phobia of the spurs since his cavaliers were swept in 2007 finals,,,and wade will feel the same lebron have,,,not to mention they got a bitter defeat last year inspite of the media hype…
      kobe/lebron/wade/amare/anthony knicks, lakers and heat media hype teams and players having drama every single moment to attract their fans,,,play basketball instead of wanna be actors that lacks of character and making flop excuses when they are defeated by good teams!!!

    • Chris Velazquez says:

      U definitively dont know anything about the game of basketball. OKC has younger legs, younger team, and probably more talented than the Heat, and are being embarrased almost to the point that they look like a NCAA DIV II team VS an USA Olympic team. Please do not comment things like such, they dont make any sense and even knowing Miami might win one or two, they definitively dont stand a chance againts SAS and the way they are playing right now, its just too impressive plus the great coach VS the guy that doesnt even know how to talk to players in Miami’s coach…

    • Phil says:

      people have been saying that 10 games ago….

      • Ben says:

        Of course they will lose. Question is “When?”

        I actually wish they would have lost already so all this talk about records can end and they can just focus on the goal: Timmy’s 5th ring

  27. Luciano says:

    Spurs are playing unbelievable!!!! I don’t know if they will sweep OKC, maybe not, but they will reach the finals and teach LeChoke James a lesson of humility and team work!!!!

  28. Aces says:

    The Spurs play an amazing kind of basketball, and the reason they are so good it’s the same reason why they don’t get the credit they deserve. It’s called FIBA basketball, where teamplay is far above individuals, in sharp contrast with the egocentric NBA culture that holds “king” James as it’s best example.

  29. p says:

    Lakers have gone 11-0 twice in the first 3 rounds of the playoffs, not just 89 but also 01. Would’ve been a perfect sweep were it not for Allen Iverson’s scoring performance.

  30. bunbury says:

    I will make the argument that they are playing the best basketball that I have seen, since1991. NOTE: I am NOT saying their are the best team since. The kings in 2002/2003 were playing this good, LAL in 200/2001; the Jazz in 1997/1998; Obviously the Bulls in 1991/1992 & 1996-1998; the Rockets in 1995, the Spurs in 1999.

    • .....justplayball !! says:

      …..seen alot of 20 game winnig streaks in that time did you???? with 10 continuing in through the playoffs??? NOT….. Sure, ALL of those teams could have…..but Did NOT……Why??? Because they were NOT as good as this team…..pretty simple if you are objective with the numbers and not Subjective …… And that 20+ game winning streak the Rockets had …… alot of good it did them!!!

      • dalauder says:

        Did you even watch the 2000-2001 Lakers? They were definitely this team’s equal. They won 11 straight in the playoffs and only lost Game 1 of The Finals because they’d had like an 8 day rest (Vinsanity and AI had a crazy East Finals long series where they traded 50 point games).

      • .....justplayball !! says:

        …..watched ALL playoffs since 1978

      • .....justplayball !! says:

        ….yeah…and it would’ve been nice to see Derek Anderson play against the lakers in the WCFinals, after losing only 2 to get there! But he was taken down by the over rated journeyman (goon) playing with the Mavs at that stop in his pathetic career….That would be Juwan Howard….and I was there as he slammed him to the ground and injured him–(going for a basket along the baseline) –got his tech– and what the Mavies wanted ….NO DA….. for the rest of the playoffs –(playin in only the first 7 games) —–didn’t help them…but it cut down on the firepower they went out and traded specifically for ……to challenge the lakers in the WC Finals……. Spurs were swept….. Derek was averaging 15.5 and 39.9% from the 3-point line in the regular season that year for the Spurs…… an ‘ol Juwan….. He is now tryin to bandwagon a ring with the Heat this year. Juwan….you S*K !! Why don’t you retire before you hurt someone else !!

  31. killuabest says:

    bring the east champs and soon they too will have 4-0 win by the spurs..period..

  32. oscar says:

    too bad for the rest of the country the spurs arent wearing purple and gold or just green…….
    duncan + popovich + rc buford (mgmt) have created a machine that dismantles all other systems
    only when the big 3 are hurt , just like many other teams have suffered this year
    will the spurs not make it to the top
    if this were the NFL the spurs will be in every sports cover regardless of the size and population of the Alamo city
    but theres a few ppl left that are not jealous and bitter that will give the spurs their credit even if its just their job

    • islandcross says:

      I agree. Better ball movement will bring forth better shot selection with less physicalities involved hence less injuries. Really is an awesome system. The main point here is that THEY ARE PLAYING AS A TEAM.

  33. Evil Alex says:

    Well, time to put down the the haterade and respect great basketball.

  34. Ariel says:

    Go Spurs!! Go Manu!!

  35. marlon green says:

    The Spurs have raised there play and gone to a n completely different level out of the remaining teams. Everyone might as well get ready for that parade on the river walk because no one is beating the spurs. OKC has an awesome big 3 and the spurs are still having there way with them. So imagine how its gonna be when they play Miami with only 2 stars. Once again Duncan will be denying Mr. King James another title. The Spurs can beat you in all aspects of the game. One of their stars can dominate you while everyone else picks you apart. They move the ball too well and find the best shot and still play defense very well. And after this is all said and done unfortunetely the spurs will still be denied ALL the credit they have deserved over the years. One of the best teams ever but still will be underrated and overlooked.

  36. Ovserber says:

    Why not try Triangle offense?

  37. Carlos says:

    that some scary s**t

  38. Aram says:

    Its gonna be HEAT-SPURS, the young guns (OKC) are being taught by the old school.

  39. C says:

    Didn’t the 2000-01 Lakers go 12-0 before losing to Philly in Game 1 of the Finals? I believe that’s the best start to the NBA playoffs ever and not the 1988-89 Lakers you mention.

  40. U don’t even have to look at their stats to be amazed by the Spurs..when you watch them play, they are just so fundamentally sound on both ends of the ball that its hard not to be impressed..from coaching to personnel, they are on a higher basketball plane of existence

    • Imad Akel says:

      yeah it’s kind of scary watching them play. And tony parker is just ridiculously good. I mean just when the opposing team finally catches a break and disrupts an offensive play, parker comes right back at you and nails a floater. It really zaps the confidence out of their opponents when they are scoring so well.

  41. Realist1234 says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever quite seen anything like these Spurs. Half of their rotation is guys that are only good at one or two things, but that’s exactly where the Spurs slot them and they’re not asked to do more. Everyone defers, and no one is above the system. And Duncan is their only lottery pick on the team.

  42. lesterol says:

    WOW!!! Just WOW!