The San Antonio Spurs have set a franchise record with their 18th consecutive victory after defeating the Indiana Pacers on Monday Night. The hottest team in the league still has some tests in front of them. In their remaining eight games, the Spurs will be facing teams in which they could possibly cross paths with in the playoffs.
Here is a quick preview of the Spurs’ final eight games in preparation of their ‘Drive for Five’ run.
April 2, 2014 vs Golden State Warriors (3-0)
The San Antonio Spurs are looking to sweep a team that has become no stranger to them. The young Warriors are looking for their first win against the Spurs this season. With the addition of Andre Iguodala, the Warriors surely were a top choice to possibly win the Western Conference. The pick-up of Iguodala could possibly be the piece they needed last season to get past the Spurs.
The three previous games were no wash,as the Spurs did not blow out the Warriors. Each game was pretty well contested. Their last meeting was March 22nd, where the Spurs went into Oracle Arena and defeated the Warriors 99 to 90.
Four of the Spurs’ starting five were in double-figures led by Tony Parker, whom finished with 20 points in just 27 minutes. The Warriors were led by Stephen Curry with 20 points.
Against the Warriors this season, the Spurs are shooting 41.2% from the floor and 35% from beyond the arc. A staggering statistic that may be overlooked is that the Spurs have an average of 9.7 steals per game. Defense has always been the trademark of Gregg Popovich’s teams,and this year has been no different.
Against a team like the Warriors who like to play an u– tempo style of game, this is what you want to see. There is always a body nearby, and active hands which lead to tipped passes.
The Warriors are a team that love shooting the three ball. The Spurs understand this and have limited them to just 29% from beyond the arc in their previous three meetings. The three-ball is what the Warriors live by, and know that this is a game changer, and will get their team rolling.
April 3, 2014 at Oklahoma City Thunder (0-3)
A role reversal for the Spurs against the Oklahoma City Thunder. On the second night of their back-to-back, the Spurs are looking to grab their first win against the Thunder. This season, the Spurs have not fared well at all dropping the previous three meetings.
The Thunder are shooting just under 50% against the Spurs from the field and 46% from beyond the arc. Kevin Durant and the rest of his Thunder team always seem to bring their best when facing the Spurs.
In their last meeting on January 22nd, the Thunder were led by Durant, whom scored a team-high 36 points, while guard Reggie Jackson finished with 27. Russell Westbrook was injured and did not play.
For San Antonio, Parker did all he could to keep his team in the game, as he finished with a game-high 37.
The Spurs are shooting 44% from the field against the Thunder this season.
April 6, 2014 vs Memphis Grizzlies (3-0)
A possible first round matchup for the Spurs, the Memphis Grizzlies have been a team that has given the Spurs a run for their money every season, including the playoffs. A team looking to grab their first win against the Spurs this season to,o has the ‘never say die’ attitude about them and the Spurs know that.
In the last meeting, the Spurs squeaked by the Grizzlies with a 110 to 108 win. At one point in this game the San Antonio Spurs were up by 16 and had to rely on a lay-up by Manu Ginobili with 1.8 seconds left to propel them over the Grizzlies.
Grizzlies guard Mike Conley continued to play well against the Spurs as he finished with 30 points. At one point, he did score 11 during their 23-7 run, which brought them within striking distance of San Antonio. Tim Duncan finished with 24 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Spurs.
This season the Spurs are shooting 52% from the field and 41% from behind the arc. Ball distribution has also been good against the Grizzlies. The Spurs have assisted on 74 of their 125 baskets against them this season.
April 10, 2014 at Dallas Mavericks (3-0)
I-35 rivals, two teams that can’t stand to be on the same court, let alone the same state with one another, but that could be because of their lovely owner Mark Cuban. The Spurs have had the Mavericks number all season long, as they look to complete their season series sweep.
The Spurs’ offense is averaging 113 points per game against the Mavericks this season. They have assisted on 74 of the team’s 116 field goals. From the floor, the team is shooting 49% from the floor. The Mavericks are shooting 44% from the floor.
Dallas has a bunch of newcomers added to their team this year, like Monta Ellis and former Spur DeJuan Blair. Always led by Dirk Nowitzki, this Mavericks team has shown a sense of urgency this season. Nowitzki and the Mavericks are in the hunt from anywhere from the six to the eigth seed in the Western Conference. But one bad stretch could have the Mavericks on the outside of the playoff picture.
Their first win against the Spurs will not only make the city of Dallas happy, but you know Cuban is probably not liking that his team has a big goose egg next to their name against the Spurs.
April 11, 2014 vs Phoenix Suns (2-2)
The Suns have fared well against the Spurs this season. In their last meeting the Suns controlled the game and wiped the floor with the Silver and Black, 106 to 85.
The Spurs shooting was ice cold as they finished the game shooting 34% from the field. Danny Green was the team leading scorer with just 15 points.
For the Suns, they too could not miss. They shot 51% from the field and were led by their bench whom scored a combined 60 points. The Spurs were without guard Tony Parker in this game due to injury.
This was the final game of the Spurs annual Rodeo Road Trip. Fatigue could of been an excuse, but you won’t hear anyone on the team admit that being the case of their performance that night.
April 14, 2014 at Houston Rockets (0-3)
If there is a team that has made strides to becoming a contender again, it would be the Houston Rockets. With James Harden and Dwight Howard clicking at the right time for this team, and with some great pieces already in place and finding their game, the Rockets are a team that could make some noise in the Western Conference.
Howard is playing his best since his Orlando Magic days. Did anyone really think he would survive in Los Angeles with Kobe? This season Howard is averaging 18.5 points per game and 12.3 rebounds. Being in a system like the Rockets has had helped Howard in finding his game, letting it come to him.
Against the Spurs this season, Howard is averaging 17 points per game, 1 block and 15.7 rebounds. If he is not the only one the Spurs have to keep their eye on, you turn to James Harden.
Harden really excels against the Spurs. In their previous four games against San Antonio, Harden is averaging 29.5 points per game. He is shooting 60% from the field. On top of his scoring, he is averaging just under 7 rebounds a game and 6 assists.
Harden and Howard are a pretty scary one-two-punch for the Rockets. The Spurs are looking to get their first win against a team in which they could see in the playoffs sometime down the road.
April 16, 2014 vs Los Angeles Lakers (3-0)
The Horror Story that is the Los Angeles Lakers has not been the team that many have enjoyed to watch in previous seasons. With their best player, Kobe Bryant, being out for the year due to injury, to the Steve Nash retirement talks, to having a starting lineup on the floor that seemed to have been thrown together by Mike D’Antoni, this Lakers teams is ready for the offseason.
Against the Spurs this season and also many others in the NBA, they have suffered. In the last meeting between these two teams, the Lakers showed a lot of heart. Though they ended up with a 125 to 109 loss, they still proved that they have the fight to compete.
Parker and Kawhi Leonard led the team with 25 and 22 points, respectively.
The Spurs’ final game of the season could not have come at a better time than against the Lakers.
San Antonio’s final eight games of the season are against both teams looking for their first win against the Spurs, and teams the Spurs are looking to beat as well for the first time.
*Stats complied from NBA.com/stats