San Antonio Spurs: The Reality of the Rodeo Road Trip

DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 7: DeMar DeRozan #10 walks onto the court with teammates Derrick White #4 and Davis Bertans #42 of the San Antonio Spurs (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 7: DeMar DeRozan #10 walks onto the court with teammates Derrick White #4 and Davis Bertans #42 of the San Antonio Spurs (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

The San Antonio Spurs are struggling thus far on their annual Rodeo Road Trip. Here’s why this trip might cost them their season.

Remember when the San Antonio Spurs would play nine games on their annual road trip and stroll back into the Alamo City with a 7-2 record? How about when the Spurs would ride that momentum into the postseason, seemingly always a top-three seed in a loaded Western Conference?

Well, maybe the Spurs have come back down to Earth this season.

Thus far, San Antiono is 0-4 on their Rodeo Road Trip losing each game by an average of 20-plus points while giving up no fewer than 125 points during this stretch.

Obviously the losses hurt their record, but we cannot overlook the significance of their opponents in those games. The Kings, Warriors, Blazers and Jazz are all either in the playoff picture or are in a dog fight to secure a berth as the season wanes.

The remaining schedule of the road trip has the Spurs up against an always tough Memphis team that rivals the slow and grind-it-out play of San Antonio, a homecoming for DeMar DeRozan in Toronto and a revenge game for Kawhi Leonard, a Knicks and Nets back-to-back, and then they finish up the trip against a well-coached Detroit team loaded with athletic bigs.

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The last thing the Spurs need is to lose ground and possible tiebreakers to these teams that look to take the 7th or 8th seed from them. Secondly, and arguably just as important, is the confidence factor, especially when these younger teams such as Sacramento or Utah feel empowered when they lace up versus an aging, less-athletic Spurs team.

A poor finish to this road trip after a rough start could also create negative momentum over the final couple months of the regular season.

Within a 3-week period of returning back home, the Spurs have matchups against the likes of Oklahoma City, Denver, Milwaukee, Portland, Golden State, Houston and Boston. Yes, the Spurs only rank 20th in remaining strength of schedule, but with every game being crucial down the stretch in securing a playoff spot, the Spurs can’t afford to be reeling.

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In past seasons, San Antonio has enjoyed the luxury of resting players in order to be fresh walking into the post season, but with their recent play, there is a real possibility that LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan continue to play extended minutes, ranking 39th and 12th in minutes per game.

The Spurs currently rank 25th in defensive efficiency, which could be detrimental for a San Antonio team that does not have the offensive firepower of the top-tier teams in the association.

The Rodeo Road Trip is usually seen as a time for the Spurs to gel, but San Antonio is struggling mightily this time around and searching for a life jacket in the sea of sharks that make up the Western Conference.