By Jonas Clark
We know all too well that the road hasn’t been kind to the San Antonio Spurs the past couple of seasons. The NBA team is 2-8 so far this season, and 30-52 over the previous two years. If the talented young core in the G-League can give Spurs fans anything this holiday season, it may be the gift of hope that they can end that trend when their time comes at the next level.
As the Austin Spurs prepare for their multiple-game road trip of this season, four games to end 2019, they can do so with a little bit of confidence. They are currently 3-0 in games away from the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park. In those contests, the team is averaging 128 points – that’s just over 10 points more than their home output – and they’re shooting 53.6%, up from 45% in Austin. Their three featured rookies have also performed better in those games than their home averages this season.
Granted, the sample size is small, but it’s encouraging, and any little bit helps. However, the road test to this point hasn’t been near the level of competition that lies ahead. Three of the four games will be against two of the best teams in the G-League – the 11-1* Wisconsin Herd, followed by back-to-back games to end the road stretch against the 8-2* Salt Lake City Stars.
The Herd and the Stars have a combined home record of 9-1, whereas the previous road opponents have a combined record of 17-22, and 7-12 in their respective venues.
The Spurs will get a slight warm-up on Saturday against the Windy City Bulls, who sit in the middle of the Eastern Conference standings at 6-6* with a 2-2* home record. The Bulls have had as much an up and down season as a team can have this far in, with streaks of winning and losing, and beating or contending with some good teams while losing to some lesser competition. They‘re coming fresh off a loss at home on Wednesday to the Raptors 905 giving up a 4th quarter lead to fall in a final of 113-109.
The greatest opponent on road trips isn’t necessarily the slate of games, but oftentimes the road itself. Jet-lag, new environments, hotel mattresses, and just being out of your routine are a few of the factors that can take a toll on athletes.
Fortunately for the Austin Spurs, those things shouldn’t impact much. They’ll complete the first two games in a matter of three days before having 10 days off, and then finishing with the back-to-back in Utah.
For two-way players like Drew Eubanks, Chimezie Metu, Keldon Johnson and even Luka Samanic, they could be a part of San Antonio’s plans while the rest of the Austin team practices during that 10-day stretch. Samanic received his first roster call-up but was listed inactive for San Antonio’s home loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Saturday’s game against the Windy City Bulls from the Sears Centre can be streamed on the G-League website or mobile app, available on Android and Apple devices. Tip-off will be 7:00 pm CST.
How will the Austin Spurs fair on this road stretch? Can road success for this young core in the G-League provide hope for the future with San Antonio? Let me know on Twitter @jarkclonas, or leave a comment below.
(*records as of 12/12)