The San Antonio Spurs close out their trip against the Thunder, Wizards, Heat, and Grizzlies
After three tough games, the Spurs have a day off before heading back down south to play the Thunder. I’m not really sure what to think about this game. The Thunder's biggest threat by far is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Murray is capable of shutting him down. Otherwise, the team is still very young and early in their rebuild. This should be an easy win for the Spurs heading into the All-Star Break.
After All-Star Weekend, which should be uneventful for Spurs fans, the team will run into Washington, Miami, and Memphis in four nights. In Washington, Bradley Beal may go off for a high-scoring game, but now that the team has traded Russell Westbrook to the Lakers, he won't have a reliable partner in crime. If the Spurs can lock him down and play even average defense against Kyle Kuzma, they should make short work of the Wizards before their real challenge the following night.
The Miami Heat are the only true contenders that the Spurs will play on the road trip. Much like there wasn’t much to say about the Thunder, there isn’t much to say about the Heat, other than if you have a weak stomach maybe don’t tune into this one. They've revamped their roster with Kyle Lowry, Markieff Morris, and P.J. Tucker, and will have Jimmy Butler and all of their young core returning. This will easily be the Spurs' toughest test.
Finally, the Spurs meet Memphis and Ja Morant. Morant can rip apart any defensive scheme, but my money is on the Spurs’ defense containing the damage. Dillon Brooks and Steven Adams may present some issues, but I do think the Spurs could be able to grind out a win here. At least, I hope they manage to do so.
This year, the Spurs have a tough schedule, but the annual trip is not the beast that it has been in the past. A record of 5 wins and 3 losses would be great, and it seems entirely realistic. I’ll happily take blowout losses in Chicago and Miami if it means having a winning record overall. Like every long trip, conditioning and resting are very important, so for those of you that hate load management, it will, unfortunately, be a necessary evil for the team to see success during the Rodeo Road Trip.
The rest period at the start of the trip and a beatdown in Cleveland should help set the tone to what could be a joyful set of away games for San Antonio. If the Spurs do well enough on the trip, it could even set the tone for the rest of the season and help them to make a push for the play-in tournament.