San Antonio Spurs
Remaining games: vs. Memphis, @ Minnesota, @ Dallas, vs. Phoenix (B2B), @ Houston, vs. Lakers
Easy Wins: Memphis, Lakers
Memphis, so far, hasn’t really put up any sort of fight against the Spurs, and have yet to beat San Antonio this season. Even though they have been very impressive since Marc Gasol returned, the combination of experience, rest and home court should be enough to put this one in the bag for the Spurs. The Lakers, on the other hand, just suck. And they don’t want to win anymore. The Spurs demolished them this season, going 3-0 with double digit wins in each game. It is very unlikely either of these games end up as a loss for the Good Guys.
Toughies: @ Minnesota, @ Dallas
Minnesota may not be in the playoffs this year, but thats not to say they aren’t a good team. Due to a loaded West, and an unfortunate record in close games, the Wolves sit in 10th place, despite having a similar talent level to the Bulls/Nets/Raptors tier that owns the 3-5 seeds in the Eastern Conference. Given the distance the Spurs will have to travel, it is easy to see Pop giving some of his players the day off in one of these games, as there is only one day of rest between them. Neither team is an easy matchup, especially away. I wouldn’t be surprised if San Antonio dropped both of these games, and if I had to pick, I would say they only win one of them.
Full-on Underdogs: vs. Phoenix, @ Houston
Phoenix have not been an easy opponent this season for the Spurs, despite their 2-1 record against them. San Antonio got blown out in the loss and only won the other two games by tight margins. Phoenix will be fighting to avoid the dreaded ninth (and non-playoff) seed so will be going all out in their remaining games. Add in the fact that this game is the second of a back-to-back and we could see some more players held out, or at least on a minutes limit. Risking an injury to a key player right now for the Spurs is not worth the extra wins at this point.
The Houston game will be the hardest of all of San Antonio’s remaining games. The Spurs have yet to beat Houston and the Rockets could have the third seed in their eyes. Separated from the Clippers by only 2 in the loss column, any faltering by L.A. will open a gap that Houston would love to jump into, and therefore make them that much more up for this inter-state rivalry match-up. Take into account the trouble that San Antonio has had controlling Houston’s backcourt, and I would probably chalk this one up as a loss for the Spurs. Either way, it will be a thrilling preview of a potential second round match-up.
3-3 record over the rest of the season.