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San Antonio Spurs

Is it too early to panic about the San Antonio Spurs missing the playoffs?

The San Antonio Spurs have lost their seventh-straight game this season after a 138-132 road loss to a struggling Washington Wizards team.

If you're sitting there wondering when the last time San Antonio has lost seven games in a row, the answer is when assistant coach Tim Duncan was a senior in college, back in 1996-97.

The Spurs fall to 5-10 on this young season, tying them for second-to-last place in the Western Conference with the Portland Trail Blazers.

San Antonio has reached the playoffs in 22 consecutive seasons - the longest active streak in North American professional sports and tied for the longest streak in North American professional sports history.

With that playoff streak on the line, it bodes the question: is it too early to panic about the Spurs?

Our NBA.com staff shares their thoughts.

Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): Even though this start to the season hasn't been pretty, I still think it's too early to worry about the Spurs.

Right now, they're one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA - something atypical from a Gregg Popovich coached team. That showed again in their loss to the Wizards, allowing 138 points. While that's certainly an issue, I believe it's a fixable issue.

This is a nearly identical roster to the team that gave the Denver Nuggets all they could handle in the first round of the playoffs last season. That wasn't exactly Popovich's greatest defensive team either (they finished 20th in the NBA in defensive rating), but they were still finding ways to win games. I don't see why this team can't hit a stride and start clicking eventually just like that team did last year.

Remember - the Spurs were 15-15 last season, just outside the playoff picture before they rattled off nine wins in 11 games. Then at the end of February/beginning of March, they went on a nine-game winning streak that solidified themselves as a playoff team.

I think this Spurs team can, and will, do something similar to keep that streak alive.

Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): The Spurs might be just 15 games into the season, but it absolutely is time to hit the panic button about their playoff chances.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the sustained greatness of Gregg Popovich and recognize this team's ability to get it together but honestly, all good things must come to an end. Besides, this isn't really a Spurs thing, but rather a Western Conference thing.

Year in and year out, the West is unforgiving, to say the least. This year is no different and, in fact, could be one of the deepest years as far as contending teams in the conference.

The Spurs are now at the bottom of the conference and will have to claw their way back up the standings while fighting for positioning with teams like the Trail Blazers, Kings and Pelicans, who have each dealt with injuries and stand to get stronger with time.

To me, it seems that this recent downward spiral will be too much for San Antonio to overcome as it will take multiple successful stretches to do so and standing in the way are the aforementioned teams, early-season surprises such as the Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks and of course, the conference's elite in Utah, Denver, Houston and both LA teams.

I just don't see it happening.

Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane): This might be the year to panic

While the Spurs have managed to weather many previous storms to make the playoffs, this season looks like it will be tougher than ever.

Their best two players LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan are a confusing fit and while they put up numbers, they don't necessarily translate to wins.

With DeRozan off the floor, the Spurs have a 9.1 net rating, compared to -7.6 with him on the floor, while with Aldridge off the floor, they have a 7.5 net rating, compared to -6.8 with him on.

Those numbers aren't encouraging.

The Spurs are stuck between playing through their two stars and their talented group of young rotation players in Dejounte Murray, Bryn Forbes, Lonnie Walker IV and Derrick White.

Stylistically, they're being left behind as the league hoists three-pointers at a rapid rate, with the Spurs dead last in the NBA in three-point makes and attempts per game. To compound the issue, they're also one of the worst teams in the league at guarding the three-point line, allowing opponents to shoot 38.1 percent from deep, good for 27th in the league.

If anyone can turn things around it's Gregg Popovich, but with their unusual lack of identity this season and the crowded Western Conference, they may not have much leeway to overturn their slow start.

Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694): I'm going to say no.

Almost every year over the past decade, a rough patch during the season has sparked "end-of-dynasty" or "end-of-the-playoff-streak" talks for the Spurs. The numbers and probabilities have backed these talks and yes, their current seven-game losing streak is their biggest in over two decades but it's only 15 games.

Last season, through 25 games, they were 11-14 with Dejounte Murray ruled out for the season and Derrick White not having completely broken into the rotation yet. With Murray ruled out, they adapted, played even slower than they were and went 37-20 over the next 57 games to extend their streak of consecutive playoff appearances to 22.

In the 11-14 stretch, they were 29th in defensive rating but that ranking improved to 12th over the rest of the season.

The point being, the Spurs, under Gregg Popovich, are the masters of adapting to different styles of the game at different points of the season. So, unless proven otherwise, I'm not betting against Pop.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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