Since the start of the 6-game homestand on December 7th, the Spurs have the best point differential in the league, the best offensive rating in the league, and the fifth highest defensive rating in the league. After starting the season as the 29th ranked team on defense until these last seven games, one may wonder how likely it is that the Spurs will continue to perform that strongly on that end of the floor.
The teams that the Spurs played during the homestand have an average offensive rating of 106.0 on the road for the season. If this were a single team’s offensive rating on the road, they would rank 23rd. Over the last month, the teams they have played have had an offensive rating of 106.7 on the road, where the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz have been performing even worse on offense over the past month. The Philadelphia 76ers have been performing better on offense on the road over the past month, but are 1-5 on the road in the second game of back-to-backs for the season with an offense rating of 100.5. Their game against the Spurs was a back-to-back on the road, as well.
Spurs’ opponents are also shooting worse when open and wide open since December 7th, the first game of their homestand. According to NBA.com/stats, Spurs’ opponents took 25% of their shots with a Spurs’ defender between 4-6 feet away, had an effective field goal percentage of 45.2% and had a 3 point field goal percentage of 20.4%. On shots where the nearest Spurs player was more than 6 feet away, Spurs’ opponents had an effective field goal percentage of 51.2% and had a 3 point field goal percentage of 33.6%.
Before December 7th, Spurs’ opponents were much better when the Spurs gave them that much space, per NBA.com/stats. When the nearest Spurs’ defender was between 4-6 feet away, Spurs’ opponents had an effective field goal percentage of 51.2% and converted 32.5% of their 3 point attempts. When the nearest Spurs’ defender was 6 or more feet away, their opponents had an effective field goal percentage of 59.5% and converted 40% of their 3 point attempts, while shooting less 3’s from wide open percentage-wise than after December 7th.
Looking at the shot clock numbers from nba.com/stats, it doesn’t seem like the Spurs have been forcing opponents into late shots too much more frequently. Spurs’ opponents have shot 1.9% more of their shots with 7 seconds or less on the shot clock since December 7th.
The Spurs have improved on defense, and that improvement should continue throughout the season. They will probably not continue to be as good on defense as they have been since the start of the homestand, however, as some of their improvement seems to be due to their opponents’s offense on the road and opponents missing shots they were making previously. Their schedule has been easier since the start of the homestand, but will be more challenging around the start of the New Year, with games against Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, and Oklahoma City Thunder.
All stats from cleaningtheglass.com unless stated otherwise.