It has been so long since the Wizards won a road game against the San Antonio Spurs that Bill Clinton was president. Playing for the Wizards were Rod Strickland, Juwan Howard and Mitch Richmond. The Spurs had Tim Duncan in his second year, David Robinson, Steve Kerr and Jaren Jackson, a.k.a. the father of Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr.
Not since 1999 have the Wizards won in San Antonio, having lost their last 21 tries. But on Monday night they may have one of their best opportunities to break that streak in quite some time. That's because the Wizards are off to their best start in years, while the Spurs are struggling to a degree they rarely do.
At 13-7, the Wizards have their best record through 20 games since the 2014-15 season. Meanwhile, the Spurs at 5-13 have their worst record to this point since 1996-97.
While it may be rare to see Washington win like this so early in the season, it is much more unusual to see the Spurs stumble out of the gate. That 1996-97 season was the one that preceded San Antonio landing Duncan with the first overall pick. They then made the playoffs in 22 straight seasons, winning four championships along the way.
The Spurs have missed the postseason in two straight years, but still managed to beat the Wizards in their annual meeting in San Antonio. They won by 20 points when the Wizards traveled there in January, fresh off their coronavirus outbreak and missing a host of key rotation players.
While the Wizards are up and the Spurs are currently down, that doesn't mean they aren't capable of a surprise. They just snapped a six-game losing streak by beating the Celtics and have a roster full of emerging young players.
Dejounte Murray, 25, is averaging 18.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, 8.1 assists and 2.1 steals per game. He's also an excellent defender. Keldon Johnson, 22, is averaging 15.1 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 39.2% from three. And 21-year-old Devin Vassell, a lottery pick from the same draft class as Deni Avdija, is averaging 12.2 points and 3.9 rebounds while shooting threes at a 39.3% clip.
The Spurs also have head coach Gregg Popovich, one of the best in the game. Amazingly, he was the coach back in 1999 as well.
Despite winning two straight, the Wizards haven't been playing their best basketball of the season in recent days and weeks. They lost four in five games recently, including a major letdown at the Pelicans which may have been their worst loss of the season so far.
Still, the odds seem decent the Wizards can break the streak. Maybe someone can go off like Richmond, who had 31 points the last time they won in San Antonio.