Reanalyzing Spurs’ Schedule and Projections Through 19 Games

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Now that 19-20 games for most NBA teams have been completed, we’re starting to see who is staying competitive and who is headed in the opposite direction toward the NBA lottery.

The early surprises have come out of the Western Conference. No team is quite separating themselves out West by record and the conference is a grueling place night to night. So far, 14 of the 15 teams out West are winning over 40% of their games. Outside of the Phoenix Suns, statistically, there’s no longer an easy win out West each night.

Compared to last season’s nine teams, this season there are just seven teams winning less than 40% of their games. The teams out West who have taken a leap are the Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings, and Dallas Mavericks.

Getting to the San Antonio Spurs, they currently sit at 9-10 to begin the season, and they’re on pace to win 38 games. Before the season began, Collin Reid and I broke down the Spurs’ schedule in Spurscast episode 508. Then, by just looking at the schedule on paper, you could tell the Spurs were going to have a tough November, where they were going to play their most games in any month on the road and they were also going to have the most back-to-back sets (4) in November, more than any other month as well.

Now that there’s a larger sample size of how teams are playing this season and there’s a sample size of how the Spurs play against certain opponents and in specific locations, let’s reanalyze the schedule to see the road ahead for the Spurs in their next 63 games, as well as where different data samples show where they’re projected to finish in wins.

Let’s first began by breaking each month of the schedule down into three different categories – opponents the Spurs will face that month winning over 40% of their games, home and road games, and the number of back-to-back sets each month.

October
Opponents above .4006
Opponents below .4001
Home games4
Road games3
Back-to-back sets0

 

November
Opponents above .40012
Opponents below .4003
Home games6
Road games9
Back-to-back sets4

 

December
Opponents above .40014
Opponents below .4002
Home games10
Road games6
Back-to-back sets3

 

January
Opponents above .40013
Opponents below .4002
Home games8
Road games7
Back-to-back sets2

 

February
Opponents above .4009
Opponents below .4001
Home games2
Road games8
Back-to-back sets2

 

March
Opponents above .40010
Opponents below .4004
Home games9
Road games5
Back-to-back sets1

 

April
Opponents above .4002
Opponents below .4003
Home games2
Road games3
Back-to-back sets1

 

As you can see, with more competitive teams so far this season, there’s no specific months that are going to get that much easier for the Spurs. The spring time might become key for the Spurs if they’re battling to get into the playoffs or if they’re in a tough fight for playoff positioning. On paper, March and April will be their easiest months of the schedule.

Now let’s answer a few questions that have started to stand out based on the Spurs’ first 19 games.

How does San Antonio fare against teams above .400?

So far this season, the Spurs are 8-8 against teams that are above .400. While traditionally one would usually look at how their team is playing against competition that is .500 or above, the Spurs aren’t even separating themselves from the teams that are above .400.

Against teams that are below .400, the Spurs are 1-2, where they’ve suffered unexpected losses to Phoenix and Miami early in the season.

How much does location matter?

Location is key for this Spurs team through 19 games. At home, San Antonio has an overall record of 6-3 and on the road, that record falls to 3-7. When it comes to playing against above .400 teams, the Spurs are 6-3 against those teams at home too, but 2-5 on the road against above .400 teams.

What about all the close games?

12 of the Spurs’ 19 games to begin the season have fallen in the NBA’s definition of ‘clutch’ time, meaning the Spurs have found themselves ahead or behind by 5 points in the last five minutes of a game. During those 12 clutch games, the Spurs are 6-6. This means that they’re projected to participate in 52 close games this season, and based on their .500 record in those games, it’s basically a coin toss on whether they’ll win or lose those games.

In games that aren’t close, the Spurs are currently 3-4 by record in those contests.

The Projections

Now, using the data we have through 19 games, here are some of the projections being painted.

Projection TypeProjected Wins
Overall (9-10)38.8
CTG Expected Wins38.1
Location (Home and Away records)39.6
Clutch and non-clutch games38.3

 

As you can see from the projections above, the number 38 continues to be the common number of wins for the Spurs based on how they’ve played through 19 games this season. If the season ended today, that’s not getting San Antonio into the playoffs and they’d be projected to have their lowest first round pick (11th) since drafting Tim Duncan number one overall way back in the late 90s.

Luckily for the Spurs, there’s still 77% of the season left to be played. The Spurs currently rank 9th offensively and 24th defensively. While the Spurs could still get a boost offensively if they can get a more efficient LaMarcus Aldridge and more productivity from Derrick White, it’s the defensive end that will really tell how much better this team can get outside of their projected 38 wins.

While more games and communication will be helpful for the defense, the current personnel have been having difficulty out on the perimeter, which then impacts the rest of the defense as ball handlers dribble into the teeth of the defense and get everyone moving. This could be where the Spurs might have a chance to show some more potential defensively if one or both of Derrick White and Lonnie Walker IV show a dramatic impact.

The Spurs could also look at the trade route before February, but for right now, it looks like they’re going to see how much better this current group can get on both ends of the floor.

Teams records collected at 2:00 PM CST on Sunday (11/25/2018) and CTG reference is to CleaningTheGlass.com.

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