The marathon has turned into a sprint. With roughly one month to go, the San Antonio Spurs have 17 games to go. The month of April is jam packed, but luckily the Spurs have given themselves some breathing room.
We’ll start with the bad news first.
Remember that five games in six days the Spurs just went through. Remember that brutal stretch that Spurs went 5-0 on? Well that’s nothing compared to the end of April. It starts Saturday April 14th with a home game versus the Phoenix Suns. They get a day off before they go out west for their final back-to-back-to-back of the season. That’s Monday in Golden State, Tuesday versus the Lakers then back to Sacramento on Wednesday. Hopefully by that time Golden State and Sacramento will be in full tank mode. The Spurs then get a day off before they return home to play the Lakers again (that’s the third time in nine days). The Spurs then close out with four games in the final five days of the season. From April 3rd to April 26th, the Spurs play 16 games. Not a lot of days off there.
Now the good news.
Of the 17 remaining games, they only play five playoff teams.
Only one of those, the Lakers, are in the top four of their conference (though they do play the Lakers three times). What happens before that nasty nine game stretch will most likely determine how much rest the Big 3 get before the postseason. Right now the Spurs are two games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder in the loss column but they’re also now a full five games up on the Lakers so they’re almost a lock to finish at worst second in the West even if they lost all three of their Laker games. The Thunder’s next four games are home for Chicago and Memphis, then on the road for Indiana and Miami. After that it gets a lot easier for them. If the Spurs are going to make a run at first place, it needs to be over the next ten days or so.
One last tidbit of good news. Since the Spurs started the season 1-8 on the road, they’re 14-2 since them wearing the visiting jerseys.
The Spurs final four games are against Cleveland, Portland, Phoenix and Golden State. Given what happened at the end of last season, you have to think Pop is going to sit Duncan, Manu and Parker for at least a couple of those games. Ditto for the back to back to back.
My guess is one or two of the big three sit for Golden State, everyone plays against the Lakers and then one or two guys sit against Sacramento. They’re 35-14 now and I think they’ll win ten of their last 17, finishing 45-21 on the season but it really all depends on how much rest certain guys get from here on out.