The schedule looked like being put through a torture chamber. After playing 21 games in the first five weeks of the season, the San Antonio Spurs then played nine games in a row on the Rodeo Road Trip. 20 of their first 34 games were on the road, making all the back to backs and three games in four nights incredibly tough. But thanks to some Pop wizardry with the bench and MVP candidate play from Tony Parker, the Spurs finished that grueling first two months of the season with the Western Conference’s second best record.
What’s the reward you ask? A very, very home friendly March and April. 19 of their final 32 games are at home. For a team that is 13-1 at home, that’s a plus. According to John Hollinger’s Playoff Odds, the Spurs are projected to finish the season 45-21, good enough for 2nd in the West. Hollinger also gives them an 82 percent chance of winning the Southwest Division and a 25 percent chance of running down OKC for the number one seed. Here’s why the second half of the season could be incredibly friendly for the Spurs.
The Spurs start a seven game home stand tomorrow night against the Bulls. Those seven games only feature two gimmes, the Bobcats and Wizards and features tough teams like the Clippers, Magic and Nuggets. The Spurs have the day off on March 15th, also known as the NBA trade deadline. The next day the team will travel to Oklahoma City to play the Thunder. This game is crucial because the winner will hold the tie breaker over the other team if the Thunder and Spurs finished tied in the standings.
The month of March does feature the first of the Spurs’ two back to back to backs this season. Friday, March 23rd they host the Mavs, then make a quick trip to New Orleans Saturday and return home to play Philadelphia. You can expect Tim Duncan to sit out that Hornets game since it will also be the Spurs’ third game in four nights. However, aside from that back to back to back and a back to back at OKC and then at Dallas, the Spurs have at least one night off in between all of their games in the month of March. That’s an incredibly friendly post All-Star break schedule.
If January was like running a marathon with the amount of games, February was a half marathon because of all the road games, March is like a 5k because of all the home games and days off, April will be more like running a 10k. They Spurs play 16 games during the last month of the season, half of those on the road. They also have four back to backs and their second back to back to back, this one entirely on the road. On Monday, April 16th the Spurs play in Golden State, then run down to Los Angeles to play the Lakers and then back up to Sacramento for their third game. There’s also a four day stretch in there where they play a home and home with the Jazz, get a day off and then play the Lakers and Grizzlies back to back at home. But there’s also plenty of games against teams like Cleveland, Phoenix and Golden State.
Looking at the schedule has me feeling optimistic about the Spurs finishing with a top two or three record in the West. The Spurs still play Memphis twice and the Lakers three more times, so there are some tough games ahead. However, we should also see a healthy Manu Ginobili and T.J. Ford back. I could see them going 22-10 to finish the season 46-20 and I don’t see them finishing the second half of the season below .500. If I had to guess, I’d say the Spurs will finish 20-12 in the 2nd half and have an overall record of 44-22.