San Antonio Spurs: What went wrong on Rodeo Road Trip & how to fix it
By Andrew Ites
The San Antonio Spurs’ struggles away from home continued on the Rodeo Road Trip, which was the worst of its kind in the Gregg Popovich era.
The San Antonio Spurs have historically used the annual Rodeo Road Trip to bond as a team and gain some momentum heading into the final month-and-a-half of the regular season.
However, this year’s road trip brought any momentum the Spurs gained during a hot month of January to a screeching halt with a 1-7 record during that stretch.
Worse yet, San Antonio was unable to stay competitive in most of those games with six of their seven losses coming by nine or more points.
And their only win of the road trip was a one-point victory over the struggling Memphis Grizzlies.
In this article we’ll break down the two major problems on the road trip and how the Spurs can bounce back for the home stretch.
The Spurs’ defense had been an issue for most of the year, but it looked like they figured some things out during the month of January where they went 10-5.
San Antonio’s defensive momentum totally fell apart on the Rodeo Road Trip as they gave up over 100 points in every game and allowed their opponent to score 120 or more in six of the eight games.
The Spurs did face a few really good offenses on the road trip, but giving up 130 points to the hapless Knicks on the penultimate game of the trip really exposed San Antonio’s defensive woes.
There are many explanations for the Spurs’ defensive struggles on this road trip, but the next topic may be the main culprit.
Next: Derrick White's Injury
Derrick White‘s Injury
After missing the first portion of the season with a heel injury, Derrick White started to break out this winter as he easily won our midseason Most Improved Player award.
White had established himself as the starting point guard and was a catalyst for the Spurs’ defensive turnaround ranking second among point guards in defensive real plus-minus this season.
White suffered another heel injury right before the Rodeo Road Trip and was forced to miss six of the Spurs’ eight games on the road trip.
In the games that White missed, San Antonio went 1-5 and gave up over 126 points per game.
If White would’ve been healthy for the entire trip, the Spurs’ fortunes might have been much different.
Next: How to turn it around
How to turn it around
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Fortunately the Spurs don’t have more than a three-game road trip left this regular season, and they get to play eight of their next 10 games at home to help regain some confidence.
San Antonio’s record will certainly rebound thanks to their friendly schedule down the stretch, but they need to learn how to win on the road if they’re going to advance past the first round in the playoffs.
Winning on the road begins with defense, and being 24th in the league in defensive rating is not going to cut it away from the AT&T Center.
Getting Derrick White healthy will help improve their defensive numbers, but the rest of the Spurs need to step up their effort on that end of the floor as well.
There are still some new faces who need to learn San Antonio’s defensive system, but that shouldn’t be much of an excuse at this point of the season.
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Better defensive effort and communication will be the key for the Spurs to pick themselves back up off the mat after an embarrassing road trip.