Research shows that the San Antonio Spurs are suited for playing in hostile territory
By Dylan Carter
Recent data proves that the San Antonio Spurs organization has a great track record of traveling well, which bodes well for them inside the Orlando bubble.
Team-building in the modern NBA is mostly based on how much money a team has and which players are looking to find a new home. Players change teams more often than ever before, knowing well that organizations will bend over backward to make it work for them. In the case of the San Antonio Spurs, a more traditional style of operating has worked just fine.
While the Spurs organization prioritizes its players, everyone comes together with the common goal of being the best final product that they could be both on and off the court. Part of that has been a consistent ability to perform well on the road. Even in a season in which their team is a shell of its former self, San Antonio still managed to post a better winning percentage on the road than nine other teams.
Dating through the last 10 years, it’s been a very different story for the silver and black. According to a research study conducted by analysts at FitRated.com, the San Antonio Spurs are the most successful road-team of the last decade with the highest win-percentage of the 30 NBA teams as the away team (54.1%). The study said that NBA teams have the hardest time winning games on the road of the four major professional sports in the United States and that no team in the last 10 years has won more games on the road than at home.
Behind San Antonio on the list are three teams that they know well — the Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat. The Spurs have a long and storied playoff history against all three of these teams in the last 10 years with meetings swinging in both directions. It’s no surprise that the four most dominant NBA franchises of the last decade are vying for a position as the best road team.
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As it pertains to the current iteration of the Spurs, we can affirmatively conclude that Gregg Popovich’s coaching style is impactful no matter which arena his team is competing in. That man is a basketball genius who can will his team to victories in the most difficult of scenarios. The 2019-20 Spurs have road wins against tough opponents including the Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics.
Certain teams have a very difficult time traveling and keeping up with their competition, but some of the Spurs’ best wins have been in enemy territory. This bodes well for a team competing for a playoff spot on a neutral court — even if certain teams have been assigned “home” versus “away.” We all know it’s not the same as playing in front of a hometown crowd where players get to sleep in their beds at home. That can change the way a player approaches a game, whereas road teams oftentimes have to overcome the strains of travel and playing in unfamiliar places.
Through 63 regular-season games before the league shut down, San Antonio only shot 0.2 percent worse on the road than at home and turned the ball over less often. They’re not bad in these situations and if the team can cover up some of its flaws during this eight-game regular-season stretch, we might get to see the Spurs back in the playoff hunt.
If the Spurs go 6-2, there’s a strong chance for them to reach this year’s play-in tournament.