By Chelsea Torres, Project Spurs.com
The rest of the regular season for the San Antonio Spurs is not detrimental to the West’s number one seed, but it will not be a walk in the park either. The loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves shows that the Spurs are not exactly taking the rest of the regular season games seriously…or maybe that was just because they played the Wolves.
Either way, the Spurs are number one in the West, and they don’t want to exactly lose that spot or cause a tough first round matchup. Right now, the Grizzlies, Suns and Mavericks are all fighting for the last two playoff seeds. I wouldn’t necessarily say that any of these three teams are a huge threat for the Spurs; but, after the loss to the Timberwolves, it almost makes you wonder if Timmy and the gang were playing so bad on purpose or if it was just an poorly played game.
The Mavericks (48-31) are holding onto the seventh seed, while Suns (46-31) are looking like the Spurs matchup come round one. At any point during the next week and a half, either of these teams could claim the seventh seed. Dallas play the Spurs tonight, then the Suns on Saturday and Grizzlies the following Wednesday. Phoenix however, plays San Antonio Friday, Dallas, Memphis, and then Sacramento to wrap up the season.
They both almost have the same schedule, so they could possibly just switch spots in the standings. As you can see, they will also play each other in the next week and a half. This game alone will be a very crucial matchup right before the standings are set. But, from either perspective, would it matter which seed they end up with? The eighth seed will play against San Antonio and the seventh seed will play against Oklahoma City. More than likely, OKC and the Spurs will make it out on top of round one.
Will the Spurs be affected by the next couple of games against these playoff contenders? They should be fine going into playoffs. They will also more than likely not lose their number one spot, giving the Spurs home court advantage throughout the playoffs.
However, given that the Spurs do not have a fluke like Tuesday night’s game against the Timberwolves, it is likely we will see Popovich rest players that we know will need a break before the playoffs come.
Coach Pop has his own strategy of how he wants to rotate and give players rest, therefore, come playoff time, everyone (including Tony Parker), should be ready to play to their full capacity.
Then again, say the Spurs continue to lose their next couple of games, a funk they cannot seem to get out of. Pop would want to play all players so the Spurs do not go into playoffs on a bad streak. San Antonio will make the next few games count but probably won’t exert all their energy doing so.