Last Friday, the NBA announced the schedule for all 22 teams that will be playing in Orlando, Florida for the NBA restart starting on July 30th.
All 22 teams will play eight games to wrap up the remainder of the regular season and determine seeding for the playoffs. The seeding will be based on winning percentage and the 9th seeded team will have a possible chance to take over the 8th seed playoff spot if they’re less than four games back.
How does the San Antonio Spurs eight-game schedule look like and how did they fare against their opponents earlier in the season?
The Spurs would have 143 days of rest going into this eight games in 13 days schedule. Against these opponents, they went 6-6 during the season, three teams who they had losing records against (but two of those only having played one game against each other) and four teams with a tied or winning record.
We’re going to breakdown each one of the Spurs’ seven opponents that they’ll be going up against in Orlando, and look back at what worked and didn’t work in their prior games. We’ll also figure out what the Spurs should and could do to improve their chances at winning each of these games.
Their first opponent will be the Sacramento Kings, who they went 1-1 against in the regular season. The first game against the two teams this season goes back to December 6th where they won by one point in Overtime. A game where they saw DeMar Derozan make three three-pointers and a near triple double. But the story of that game was the bench unit, spearheaded by Dejounte Murray, that scored a combined 52 points.
However, the Spurs wouldn’t fare as well in the second matchup on February 8th where they lost by 20 points due to Buddy Hield scoring 31 points off the bench on 9-10 shooting from deep. The Spurs struggled from three-point range this game only making seven three-pointers on 29% shooting from deep.
Keys to Winning: The Spurs need to hold Hield at bay, and prevent another three point barrage from the talented guard, who scored 20 plus points in both matchups. Luckily the Spurs have more than enough talented defenders to put up against him in Murray and Derrick White.
What can only be told as a tale of three different Spurs teams, the three games between the rivals went from close loss, blowout win to blowout loss for a record of 1-2 against the Grizzlies.
The first game was a close four point loss in November for San Antonio, where scoring was fairly balanced with five Spurs scoring double digits. However, the Spurs were fighting an uphill battle the whole game. Only finally getting a lead halfway through the fourth. The Spurs defense just couldn’t prevent the Grizzlies going on a late run, and it took the sails out of San Antonio’s comeback.
In their second game, the Spurs got revenge and went on to blowout the Grizzlies by 30 points, 145-115, behind LaMarcus Aldridge going off for 40 points on 68% shooting. This would be one of their best games all season. But, the Spurs would have one of their worst defensive performances a month later in their third matchup with Memphis, allowing four Grizzlies players to score 20 or more points in a 121-132 loss.
Keys to Winning: Limit the Grizzle’s offense. The Spurs already have a challenge defensively, but the Grizzlies have their own challenges on the offensive side of the ball. Memphis is in the bottom ten of the league in offensive rating and they don’t boast a talented offensive bench either. Drawing fouls and playing aggressively might play into the Spurs’ favor against their division rival.
The Spurs only had one game against the only eastern conference foe on their Orlando schedule that was all the way back in November, where they lost to the 76ers 115-104. San Antonio fell into a hole early on and was fighting uphill the whole game. While shooting was fairly similar, the 76ers just outrebounded the Spurs by double digits, grabbing 51 boards compared to San Antonio’s 32. This loss would become the Spurs’ final loss of their eight-game losing streak, the worst in over two decades.
However, since that November game, Philadelphia is only sixth place in the east and have struggled on the offensive side of the ball, placing in the bottom half of offensive rating and bottom ten in the league for points per game. Their defense has been the saving grace though, ranking sixth in the league in defensive rating and opponent’s points per game.
Keys to Winning: Just like Memphis, exploit their offensive weaknesses. It will be difficult to compete against them offensively with the 76ers’ defense, but the Spurs need to force them to shoot. Philadelphia only ranks 14th in three point shooting and struggles at the line. The Spurs just can’t allow themselves to get into offensive slumps against this team or else their offensive will have an opportunity to pull away.
Come back this week for part two and let me know what you think about the Spurs' eight games in Orlando at @TyJager.