The Spurs have ten regular season games left and they probably won’t look much like the first 72. Key players will sit, Head Coach Gregg Popovich will avoid tipping his hand, and the result may be the end of a historic home winning streak. In fact, San Antonio very well may lose half of their remaining games, possibly as bad as Friday night in Oklahoma City. And that’s completely ok.
The remaining schedule for the Spurs looks like this, and I’ve taken the liberty of penciling in my predictions. If these results occur, San Antonio will finish with a somewhat decent record of 67-15 (tied for 8th best winning % of all time).
However, these results aren’t mortal locks because of the nature of the end of the regular season. Toronto is only 2.5 games back of the Cavaliers in the East, and they may be motivated to make a push for the top seed. Utah and Dallas are currently duking it out for the right to get sacrificed to the Golden State Sun God in the first round. On the other hand, the guys wearing silver and black already locked up a top-two finish in the West. That motivation disparity may cause the Spurs to lose to sub-par opponents, so don’t freak out if it happens.
Pop and his team have absolutely no reason to care about wins and losses down the stretch, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t motivated. The NBA playoffs begin in 19 days. The goal is, and always has been, to roll into the playoffs with a healthy squad prepared to make a deep run, and they are in perfect position to do just that. If you think about it, the home stand against Chicago, the Thunder, the Los Angeles Clippers, Portland, and Golden State was pretty comparable to game 3 of the NFL preseason; as close as it’s going to get to the real thing before prioritizing safety.
Project Spurs’ Ryan McCallum said it in the last Spurscast, but expect San Antonio to manage these last few games like the fourth game of the NFL preseason. The emphasis will be on keeping key players healthy and figuring out which of the other guys can be counted on when it really matters. The only difference is that most teams don’t have the luxury of being able to rest for a lengthy period of time before the real show starts. Even the mighty Warriors will likely be fighting to the bitter end of the regular season, albeit so they can finish with a slightly better regular season record than a team that played 20 years ago.
Here’s the bottom line: The Spurs have already gotten everything that they wanted to get out of this regular season. That means they might lose badly to Golden State and the Thunder, and maybe even lesser teams. They’ll probably come just a game or two short of joining this year’s Warriors (assuming they make it), as the only teams to complete a regular season without a home loss. But none of that matters. The Spurs solitary goal is to win a championship, and nobody can do that in the last 10 games of 82.
P.S. Take it away, Aaron