The San Antonio Spurs are excited to have LaMarcus Aldridge and David West on the roster, and a favorable schedule to begin the 2015-16 season should benefit the team’s effort to gel as one unit.
While an NBA championship is the expectation for San Antonio next year, recent history suggests super-teams don’t easily attain the ultimate goal.
After joining the Miami Heat in free agency, LeBron James helped the team reach the Finals in 2011 before the Big Three of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh fell to the Dallas Mavericks. Then last season, James returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers, battled through injuries to top players but lost to the Golden State Warriors.
But the Cleveland saga in 2014-15 is most notable. James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love struggled to mesh, and the Cavaliers stumbled to a 19-20 record by mid-January. They rebounded quite well, finishing 34-9 before speeding through the Eastern Conference playoffs.
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Fortunately for San Antonio, thanks to a soft collection of opponents in November, the veteran team is likely to avoid that early-season struggle.
During October and November, the Spurs play 18 games, including three back-to-backs. They’ll face the Oklahoma City Thunder, New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies, but there’s not shortage of favorable matchups, either.
The schedule includes Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, Sacramento Kings, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns.
Will San Antonio win them all? Probably not. The Spurs will certainly encounter their fair share of difficult moments and games.
Aldridge and West must adapt to the rapid ball movement, and San Antonio needs to be patient when the ball occasionally sticks on Aldridge in the post. Plus, the second unit isn’t exactly a strong defensive lineup, so adjustments will be necessary.
What’s most important, though, is the early-season slate affords the Spurs a tremendous opportunity to prepare for what should be a grueling finish.
Three games apiece w/ Golden State, OKC over the final month is going to be something. 11 of last 18 at home, but 13 against playoff teams.
— Dan McCarney (@danmccarneySAEN) August 12, 2015
During the 23-game stretch of March and April, San Antonio will face Golden State, Oklahoma City, New Orleans and Memphis a combined 10 times. The old Spurs and new Spurs should be acclimated to each other by that point, and the NBA will know whether or not they’re a true threat.
If San Antonio survives that brutal stretch, a championship will remain a realistic target, and the opening part of the Spurs schedule will likely have contributed to the cohesion necessary for a title run.