The Spurs’ Playoff Hopes

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Photo by Reginald Thomas II/San Antonio Spurs

Although the San Antonio Spurs are 8-14 this season, they are only 2 games out of the 8th seed. With recent victories over the Los Angeles Clippers and the Houston Rockets, the Spurs appear to be playing better basketball than they did at the beginning and middle of November.

Realistically, the Spurs probably can’t get to the 6th seed. The Utah Jazz, who currently hold that seed, are 12-10, and are better than their current record. The 5 teams above the Jazz all have elite talent at one or more positions and will probably stay in the top 6 throughout the season. The Portland Trail Blazers had a terrible start to their season, but have since recovered. They are 5-5 in their last 10 games, the best record of anyone below the 5th seed in the West and only 1 game out of the 8th seed. With their talent, they will probably grab the 7th or 8th seed.

That would only leave one spot for the Spurs. Other than the Blazers, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Phoenix Suns, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Sacramento Kings are above the Spurs, and are all within 3 games of the Spurs. If the Blazers continue to improve, the Spurs will likely need to win 3 more games the rest of the season than all of those teams to make the playoffs.

According to Tankathon.com, the Spurs have a harder remaining schedule by opponent win percentage than the Thunder, the Suns, and the Kings, but the rest of their opponents only have a 0.1%, 0.2%, and 0.5% higher win percentage than those teams’ opponents do, respectively. The Spurs remaining opponents are tied with Blazers’ remaining opponents in win percentage and have a 8.0% lower win percentage than the Timberwolves’ remaining opponents.

The Spurs’ schedule for the rest of December is fairly easy. They have games against the Rockets, the Brooklyn Nets, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Dallas Mavericks, but the rest of their games are games that the Spurs should have a good shot at winning. Not only that, but the Spurs also have at least two days off between games 5 times in December after playing at least every other day in November.

Their schedule in January starts much tougher, with 6 of their first 8 games being two games against the Milwaukee Bucks, a game against the Boston Celtics, a game against the Toronto Raptors, and two games against the Miami Heat.

The Spurs also have a challenging Rodeo Road Trip this season with games against the Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, the Denver Nuggets, and the Jazz. In March, they have another 5 game road trip against the Jazz, the Timberwolves, the Nuggets, the Warriors, and the Kings. Their schedule in April starts fairly easy, but the Spurs will have two games against the Rockets, a game against the 76ers, and a game against the Pacers in the last 8 days of the regular season.

The Spurs are still in the playoff race and have an easier schedule this month than last. If they are able to continue to win games this month, they may be near the 8th seed by the start of 2020. There will be some challenging stretches in the season after that, but if the Spurs are able to win some of their games against contenders and win against teams that are projected to make the lottery, they have a shot to keep their playoff streak alive.

Opponent strength of schedule from Tankathon.com

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