San Antonio Spurs: Late-season schedule could define playoff hopes

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 18: DeMar DeRozan #10 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots the ball during the game against the Golden State Warriors on March 18, 2019 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 18: DeMar DeRozan #10 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots the ball during the game against the Golden State Warriors on March 18, 2019 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
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A brutal stretch of games near the end of the season could seal the fate of the San Antonio Spurs in pursuit of yet another playoff bid.

NBA schedule-makers didn’t hold any punches when constructing the final stretch of the season for the San Antonio Spurs, who’ll face off with various playoff contenders and hopefuls at the rear end of their regular season. After a treacherous Rodeo Road Trip spanning across February, the intensity only increases for this group.

Over the course of their last 10 games, the Spurs will face Golden State, Houston, New Orleans and Sacramento twice each as well as Philadelphia and Indiana.At that point in the season, the Warriors should have historically talented sharpshooter Klay Thompson back in action along with an acclimated D’Angelo Russell and the rest of Steve Kerr’s group.

San Antonio won two of the three meetings between these model franchises last season and got obliterated in their lone trip to Oracle Arena. These are familiar opponents and DeMar DeRozan shined against the powerhouse last season, but the Warriors are sure to give a good fight regardless of Kevin Durant’s departure.

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For as much trouble as the Warriors could give San Antonio, Houston is equally as dangerous. The reunited tandem of Russell Westbrook and James Harden have been questioned in great detail by the national media and NBA fans alike, but talent triumphs all. In addition to prior experience playing alongside each other, Russ and Harden have a strong relationship and their chemistry is sure to translate to the hardwood.

While these two established organizations will battle for playoff positioning, both New Orleans and Sacramento are questionable. The Pelicans are boasting a new-look lineup with high character veterans and exciting young talent melting together to embrace the pace-and-space era of pro hoops. On the other hand, Sacramento was a pesky opponent for the Spurs last season for their athleticism and pace. Led by De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III, the Kings are sure to battle for a playoff spot.

Philadelphia is slotted to be one of the three best teams in the Eastern Conference and the Pacers have a deep lineup of interesting role players led by a star in the making in Victor Oladipo. These won’t be easy matchups by any means.

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When taking all of these factors into consideration, it’s assured that San Antonio needs to take advantage of its early season slate. Unless this team exceeds expectations and can handle the heat late in the year, the Spurs could see themselves struggling their way in, or out, of the playoff picture.

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