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The week ahead will test Spurs’ mettle

The San Antonio Spurs are coming up on a "hell week" with the next few games they have in front of them, especially when it comes to playoff seeding picture.

The team will have their hands full with the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, and Miami Heat to close out the month. If that wasn't enough, the Spurs will start off the month against the Memphis Grizzlies just one day after facing the currently streaking Miami Heat.

This upcoming stretch may leave Spurs fans disappointed at the win-loss column and also at the standings.  With the Spurs only being up 1.5 games on Oklahoma City, the upcoming few games may change that with the Spurs possibly dropping a good amount of those four games.

These teams have been tough matchups for the Spurs this season and shouldn't be taken lightly. The good news is that the Spurs are healthy, but they're currently in a funk that may play a huge part if they don't get their acts together on the court.

The Denver Nuggets are an athletic team that look to run every possession. They were on a 15-game winning streak before the New Orleans Hornets snapped it and will look to get back on track against the Spurs. There's no way of knowing how much energy the loss will effect the Nuggets, but the Spurs need to come out ready to end the game early with the upcoming stretch. The team can't afford to play their core an extended amount of minutes. The Nuggets are a tough opponent, but they look to possibly be one of the "easiest" of those four teams mentioned.

The Los Angeles Clippers have also given San Antonio a hard time with the exception of their most recent meeting. The Spurs defeated the Clippers 116-90, but the Spurs had problems scoring against them the two games before that. Los Angeles held San Antonio under 90 points in those first two meetings and it may not be too surprising to see an encore of those if the Spurs can't close out the Nuggets early the game before. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin tend to wear out Tony Parker and Tiago Splitter while DeAndre Jordan's length and athleticism gives the team troubles on both ends of the floor.

The Spurs lost to the Miami Heat 105-100 on November 29. This was the national televised game Gregg Popovich sent his stars home and played his bench, a move that warranted a fine from commissioner David Stern. While some fans may feel confident going into this game because of how the bench played, this is a different game and a totally different Heat team. The outcome of this meeting can't be compared to the other for various reasons. The Heat may not have played as motivated as they would have if the Spurs' Big 3 played. They were facing the back end of the Spurs bench and didn't have the same determination.

This also isn't the same Miami team either.

The current team is on a 27-game win streak and playing from behind from early on. This shows their confidence to come back and their dominance so far is a testament of their teamwork. The Spurs will have their hands full with this team. San Antonio may or may not come out with a win, but it can't be compared to the last game since a starting lineup consistent of Nando De Colo, Patty Mills, and Matt Bonner doesn't compare to the actual lineup the Spurs will start and the Heat will certainly have a different view of that.

The Memphis Grizzlies are coming off bad news that Marc Gasol is out indefinitely with an abdominal strain. This could be a huge blow to them as this type of injury heals with time and not doing any physical activities because it can be re-aggravated easily. The Spurs are 2-1 against the Grizzlies and have played like a team possessed every chance they get with the memory of the Grizzlies eliminating them in the 2011 playoffs. The Grizzlies may not be as good without Gasol, but they are still a physical team. This physicality plays a part, especially being the second game of a back to back. The Spurs may run out of gas by this time, so it won't be a major surprise if they drop this last game of the stretch.

The Spurs are in for a tough "hell week" stretch these upcoming games. It will certainly test their mettle.

This may result in a drop in the standings as their competition for top seed have an easier schedule ahead of them compared to San Antonio. The good news for Spurs fans is the team is healthy right now and ultimately that will be the biggest factor in the playoffs.

The Spurs may surprise and end the stretch 4-0, 1-3, or any combination depending on what Pop's mindset will be with healthy and minutes playing a huge factor.

One thing is for sure and that may be every game during these four games are going to be toss ups.

What do you think Spurs fans? How do you see the upcoming tough stretch of games going for the black and silver?

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