The playoffs are no longer a guarantee for the eighth seed San Antonio Spurs, so every game matters down the stretch of the regular season.
Only 20 games remain in the 2018-19 NBA season and for the first time in two decades, the San Antonio Spurs aren’t a guarantee to reach the playoffs. This season has been a unique challenge for head coach Gregg Popovich, whose sticktoitiveness and dedication to his franchise led to a quiet trade deadline and limited activity in the buyout market.
Unless something unexpectedly changes, the Spurs will close out the season with the same core with DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge as it’s driving force on the offensive end of the floor. The two have played an inspired brand of basketball as of late, attempting to carry the team from the depths of its own uninspired perimeter defense and ball movement.
San Antonio has a real chance to build off of the worst Rodeo Road Trip in Spurs history by committing to defense and returning to peak form. In doing so, the team needs to key in on some pivotal matchups in the final 20 games of the year.
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) February 27, 2019
On March 31, the Spurs host the rising Sacramento Kings who are thirsty for their first playoff appearance in quite some time. The quickness, floor spacing and athleticism that Sacramento possesses on its deep roster are hurdles that San Antonio has struggled against earlier in the year. It’ll take a combined effort with sustained intensity around the perimeter of both ends of the court.
In order to keep up with other surging teams in the West, San Antonio needs to pick up the ball movement and create open jump shots for three-point specialists on the perimeter.
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Another high-powered offensive unit that the Spurs will face in the final stretch is Denver. These two teams will play twice, once in both cities on March 4 and again on April 3. Under offensive tactician Mike Malone, the Nuggets have implemented an unprecedented style of offense with Nikola Jokic as the fantastic leader of the squad.
Stealing at least one game away from the West’s second-best team would be a huge help in closing out this season strong, especially after this dreadful stretch that the team has fought through in late-February.
Lastly but certainly not least, San Antonio will travel to Houston in a game that could have huge playoff implications for both sides. DeRozan and James Harden will duel for dominance of the Southwest while establishing playoff positioning.
The Rockets are only three games ahead of San Antonio and have been susceptible to cold spells, so a win in Houston could come up huge in the long run.