By Rocky Garza Jr. for Project Spurs
According to Tankathon, the San Antonio Spurs have the toughest remaining schedule in the NBA. The teams they have on deck for the remainder of the season include the Jazz (x2), Kings, TrailBlazers, Bucks, Nets, Knicks and Suns (x2).
The magic number for the Spurs to clinch the play-in series is six according to CBS Sports and as you read more throughout the article I will give my prediction for each remaining game.
(According to Playoff Status.Com, there are hypothetical scenarios that give the Spurs a one percent chance of climbing up in the standings and becoming a 5, 6, 7 or 8 seed. However, they would need help from other teams and sit currently 10th and their best-case scenario is to win six more games to at least clinch the play-in.)
The predictions begin below:
Spurs vs Sixers, 7 p.m CT, May 2
The Spurs are faced with a tough matchup against the Sixers and are without Derrick White (who is out for the season with an ankle injury), Dejounte Murray, DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl who are sitting out for rest.
The game should show a lot of hustle and grit from the young guns against the Sixers, but unfortunately, because of injuries and the Sixers playing at full strength, I think they drop this one.
On the bright side, it will serve as a learning experience for the young guys and allow them to develop their game and chemistry against a top-ranked Eastern conference opponent.
Spurs vs Jazz, 9 p.m. CT, May 3
The Spurs pack their bags and head over to Salt Lake City to play the Jazz on a back-to-back, who are coming off a 106 to 102 victory over the Raptors and are currently tied with the Suns for the 1st seed in the West.
It was announced by their beat writer, Tony Jones, the Jazz will be without Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley and one can expect the Spurs to at least have DeRozan, Poeltl and possibly Dejounte back into action (who is dealing with left knee soreness.)
The team should come out hungry and focused after back-to-back losses and fully take advantage of Mitchell and Conley being out and grab a hard-fought victory to start out their week.
Spurs vs Jazz Round Two, 8 p.m CT, May 5
Both teams meet again on Wednesday and it is unsure whether the Jazz will still be missing both of their stars, but expect the Jazz to come out with intensity after dropping one at home, which is a rare feat since they have only four recorded losses when they’re home during this season.. (well five after the Spurs beat them on Monday.)
However, expect the Spurs to fight in a back-and-forth battle with the Jazz and leave the arena smiling after handing Utah their sixth home loss.
Spurs vs Kings, 9 p.m. CT, May 7
They go head-to-head with the Kings who seem to be too far out to make a run at the 10th seed and become eligible to make the play-in tournament. The season series was split and in both games they did their best guarding the Kings young star, De’Aaron Fox, who has averaged 25.2 points per game for the season.
In their last game they held him to 20 points and pulled out a 120-106 victory, but this time around I expect the team to be laser-focused and pull out a big victory to remain in the playoff race.
Spurs vs Blazers, 9 p.m CT, May 8
Riding a three-game win streak into Portland and playing on a back-to-back the Spurs will be coming into town with some confidence, but the Blazers will of course have something to say about that.
The Blazers just got a big 129-119 win against the Celtics and continue to battle in the standings, while also playing to avoid the play-in tournament. They will be facing the Spurs off a back-to-back as well, as they have a date with the Lakers who are right above them in the standings.
In their Jan. meeting the Spurs pulled off a 125-104 victory with DeRozan and LaMarcus Alridge leading the way, but a different type of ballgame should be expected. Both teams will trade punches back and forth and give fans a high-scoring, exciting game, but the Spurs come up just short and suffer a loss here.
Spurs vs Bucks, 7:30 p.m. CT, May 10
They face the Bucks who are currently 3rd in the Eastern Conference and who just recently got their superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo back from injury. The matchup may seem daunting on paper, but in their last game, the Spurs only lost by seven to the Bucks and had Murray and Mills out for rest.
However, that doesn’t diminish the talent the Bucks have, but because of recent injuries around the league, I believe we could see some key players rested from Milwakuee to ensure they’re healthy and rested for the playoffs.
I think this game is winnable for the Spurs but I’m also riding with a win for them even if their stars do play because I can see the team coming in desperate to get a win after a tough loss to Portland.
Spurs vs Nets, 7 p.m CT, May 12
A date with the Nets comes two days after their victory over the Bucks and I can see the same scenario happening with the Nets resting their players in preparation for the playoffs. According to this CBSSports.com article, the trio of Durant, Harden and Kyrie have played a total of 186 minutes together because of injury, COVID-19 or personal reasons.
Although it would make sense to continue to get these three reps together on the court, you might see a DNP from a few of their star players to ensure their health is fine.
Another Spurs victory is onboard with me and they’re inching closer to reaching the magic number of six victories to clinch the play-in series.
Spurs vs Knicks, 6:30 p.m. CT, May 13
They travel 30 minutes for their second to last back-to-back of the season to face off with the revitalized 4th-seeded Knicks, who will be making the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
In their early March meeting the Spurs pulled out a 119-93 victory and fans got surprise, solid performances from Trey Lyles and Luka Samanic. The Knicks seem to be the talk of the league this season and they finally aren’t putting their fans through consistent misery. However, I think the Spurs once again fire on all cylinders and play a solid all-around game to clinch that needed sixth victory. Fans and players rejoice in knowing the Spurs are guaranteed for the play-in and have a shot to get in the playoffs.
Spurs vs Suns, 11 a.m. CT, May 15 and May 16, (Last Back-to-Back)
The Spurs face off the CP3-led Suns for a back-to-back to finish off the season and there could also be a possibility you see rest from their stars, but they could be playing at full strength to reach the 1st seed in the West.
The Suns are currently tied 1st with the Jazz in the West and they have a 40 percent chance of finishing off as the top seed. If they are unable to reach the top seed, Playoff Status gives them a 49 percent to finish as the 2 seed, 9 percent as the 3 seed and 2 percent as the 4 seed.
In the last matchup, the short-handed Spurs were without a few key players and were able to dominate the Suns 111-85. In this matchup, I feel a playoff-like atmosphere will be felt from both teams as they are preparing for the playoffs and fighting for seeding.
However, as I mentioned I feel if the Suns are staying on the safe side and are comfortable where they are in the seeding, there may be a chance we see rest from stars such CP3, Booker, Bridges or Ayton.
With that being said, I see the Spurs splitting the two finals games and fans get to stress over their beloved Spurs in the play-in tournament, but c’mon.. of course they make the playoffs.
Final Record: 7-3, Overall Record: 38-35