The First week of April could make or break the Spurs’ season
By Josh Paredes
After losing their first three games of the homestand, the San Antonio Spurs have won two of their last three at the AT&T Center. Starting Thursday, they have a chance to go above .500 both at home and on this road trip by the time it’s over. To make that happen, they’ll need to take advantage of three Eastern Conference teams playing losing basketball.
The good news? The Spurs are 11-4 against the Eastern Conference this season, and all four of those losses have come to teams currently above .500. The bad news? Consistency hasn’t exactly been this team’s forte for the past 10 days.
On paper, this team is too talented and disciplined to lose to the upcoming Hawks, Pacers, and Cavaliers, but rosters alone don’t win ballgames. Sitting at 24-21 after Wednesday’s win over Sacramento, the Spurs are sandwiched directly in the middle of the seventh-seeded Mavericks and ninth-seeded Warriors.
At the conclusion of the record nine-game homestand, San Antonio will have to face Denver twice, followed by the Mavericks, all on the road in the span of four days. It’s safe to say these next three games could provide a small but necessary cushion for a Spurs team looking to avoid dropping further in the standings.
How the San Antonio Spurs can take care of business
The biggest issue the Spurs have faced in their recent struggles has been both defending and making threes. The triple has become the most important weapon in basketball, and it’s often the team that holds the advantage in this statistic that comes away victorious.
In Monday’s blowout loss to the Kings, they allowed a scorching 18-for-36 night from deep while converting on 10-of-27 themselves. That accounts for a 24-point disadvantage. In Wednesday’s grudge match, San Antonio held Sacramento to 11-of-35 from the outside while converting on 10-of-26. This disparity is a common trend in what decides wins and losses throughout the NBA.
So what can we expect from the three upcoming matchups? Let’s look at the 3-point shooting of the Hawks, Pacers, and Cavaliers:
- Hawks: 18th in 3PM per game, 14th in 3PA, 17th in 3P% at 35.1
- Pacers: 19th in 3PM per game, 18th in 3PA, 16th in 3P% at 36.5
- Cavaliers: 30th in 3PM per game, 30th in 3PA, 29th in 3P% at 29.5
These numbers bode well for a Spurs team that’s currently allowing the second-highest shooting percentage from three at home at 39.5. All three are near the bottom third in the league or worse at converting on outside shots, and Cleveland’s perimeter game has been downright terrible all year.
Still, San Antonio has made a habit out of relaxing on the perimeter and allowing for way too many wide-open shots from three in recent weeks. Besides taking care of the ball, limiting these looks and chasing guys off the line will be the biggest key to a winning streak to end the homestand.
Things will only get much more challenging once the Spurs get back on the road. The time to pad their record is now.