What happened during the Rodeo Road Trip?

DuncannPopNow that the hoopla of All-Star weekend is over, it’s time to get back to business for the San Antonio Spurs in the remaining 26 games.

But first, let’s look at what happened for the team during the Rodeo Road Trip.

In the past, Spurs has always used the Rodeo Road Trip to fix a few kinks in their game, and prepare them for the stretch run.

Since 2003, the Spurs have a fantastic overall record on their rodeo excursion which has helped the team to bond more which is crucial in the long run. This year’s road trip looked a lot easier than their previous annual tour away from San Antonio. A quick look at their nine road games and a 6-3 record seemed to be a modest bet — six of their opponents on this recently concluded trip have losing records. 

They started the trip with a loss to a depleted Portland Trail Blazers team but redeemed themselves by beating the Los Angeles Lakers at the buzzer and then winning three straight games against sub .500 clubs (Sacramento, Detroit, Toronto) before falling to the Philadelphia 76ers.
The team bounced back by pounding the Washington Wizards and New Jersey Nets but lost their last rodeo game against the Chicago Bulls. In the end, the Spurs finished the Rodeo Road Trip with a 6-3 record but loss to some teams that they should have beaten. Despite the loss however, the Spurs stayed on top of the standings and kept a five game cushion over the rest of the NBA teams going into the All-Star Break.
The Rodeo Road Trip is the gauge of how this Spurs team will do in the second half of the season, it is usually the time where Spurs pick up the pace towards a strong push going into the playoffs. They are the league’s best from the get-go and are playing well against elite teams and taking care of business against “lesser” squads and are showing a winning attitude. 

Nonetheless, they dropped a game against Philadelphia, lost to an injury plague Portland team and was defeated by the Bulls who played without Joakim Noah. I know looking for a perfect road trip might be asking too much, but on paper the Spurs are clearly better than the 76ers and seemingly had the upper hand against Portland being short-handed. Losing to the 76ers don’t bother me much, but the loss to the Trail Blazers is a bit troubling.

Yes, the Spurs have won more games and have set new franchise records this season but like it or not the Blazers exposed one of the Spurs’ glaring weakness and that is their lack of front court depth.

Specifically, the Spurs are having problems against teams with young and mobile bigs and LaMarcus Aldridge sent that message loud and clear, when he dropped 40 points in their 99-86 victory over the Spurs last February 1st.

Another thing is the Blazers are a potential playoff foe. Not to be pessimistic but for the Spurs to survive the post-season, they really need to shore-up their frontline either by speeding up Tiago Splitter’s learning curve or by looking for added help via buyout or free agency.

The Bulls on the other hand proved that the Spurs’ defense needs more work. Chicago shot 53.8% from the field and out-rebounded San Antonio 41-29. Not to mention Derrick Rose burned them with 42 points as he repeatedly attacked the Spurs’ defense.

Although it would be nice for them to be able to secure the overall home court advantage throughout the playoffs, it is important to keep in mind that championships are not won during the regular season. 

What do you think about the Spurs’ performance in their latest rodeo trip? Share us your thoughts.