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?
We’re going to breakdown each one of the Spurs’ seven opponents that they’ll be going up against in Orlando also figure out what the Spurs should and could do to improve their chances at winning each of these games in part two of this series.
Before we begin, if you missed part one click HERE.
The Spurs will find themselves matched up against the third best team in the west, and the best team on their schedule. The teams were due to play against each other in their second matchup of the season right before the league went on break. In their previous matchup, the Spurs had a solid game, leading by 23 at one point in the game and had seven Spurs score double digit points. But, the Spurs saw their lead disappear in the fourth as Jamal Murray went off for 14 points in the fourth alone. The Nuggets would go on to win 127-120.
Keys to Winning: Focus on limiting Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. San Antonio did a good job at limiting Jokic’s impact this game, forcing five turnovers against him and four fouls. They had also done a good job at limiting Murray as well since he only had 12 points in the first three quarters. San Antonio just needs to do this for a full 48 minutes and not allow themselves to get complacent. Fortunately, the Nuggets this time won’t have a home crowd energizing them either.
The Spurs will be playing Utah twice in this eight game schedule. While the Jazz are in 4th place in the west, the Spurs have had surprisingly good games against them, going 2-0 against the Jazz so far this season. In both games, the Spurs forced double digit turnovers against the Jazz and smartly drew fouls putting the Utah stars into foul trouble. Gregg Popovich clearly understands how to play against two-time defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert, who struggled in both matchups. Gobert only scored 17 and 18 points respectively, while getting deep into foul trouble and making turnovers.
Keys to Winning: Unleash Dejounte Murray. Murray’s defense played a key part in both of San Antonio’s wins against Utah. In their second and best game against Utah, Murray scored 23 points on 62% shooting, while racking up four steals and limiting Donovan Mitchell to only 12 points. Forcing turnovers against Utah was a major factor in the Spurs’ wins, and that only comes about with implementing Murray’s stellar defensive skills.
Many should remember the one game the Spurs had against the Pelicans, especially being that the Spurs won it and barely any mention of their win was being talked about post game. Instead the story was Zion Williamson’s debut. San Antonio kept control of the game throughout, but had a hiccup in the fourth when Williamson started finding his rhythm and Jakob Poeltl just wasn’t prepared for the 17 point barrage that the rookie laid out. However, San Antonio did get lucky and took advantage of Alvin Gentry sending Williamson to the bench late in the fourth due to minute restrictions. San Antonio would go on to win with DeRozan and Aldridge scoring 20 and 32 respectively.
Keys to Winning: Take advantage of a lackluster Pelicans defense. The Pelicans are still young and inexperienced compared to many other teams in the league, which includes San Antonio. They rank bottom five of the league in opponent points per game, along with only 18th in steals and a horrid second to last in turnovers. Along with the defense, the Spurs are able to take advantage of having a good sample size of Williamson’s play compared to the first matchup to work off of in preparing a game plan.
When it comes to rivalries, every other game is off the table in trying to figure out who will win. The two games the Spurs had against the Rockets, both were only decided by two points each. One in the Spurs’ favor and one in the Rockets’ favor. The first was one of the most fun to watch as Lonnie Walker went off 19 points alone in the fourth to allow the Spurs to come back from a 22 point deficit and into a double overtime win. While San Antonio struggled mightily in the third, they made up for it with stellar defense and allowing Walker to take control of scoring. In their second game, the Spurs were hurt by turnovers and a lack of scoring in the second half. But they still kept it close, again only losing by two points.
Keys to Winning: Take advantage of Houston’s lack of size and lack of depth. The current Rockets team is very different from the one in December, especially with the moving of Clint Capela at the trade deadline, leaving 6’5 P.J. Tucker and 6-7 Robert Covington to play the center position. Even without Aldridge, the Spurs still have size they can use against the Rockets. San Antonio also has the advantage of having a deeper bench compared to Houston’s lackluster nine-man rotation that has six players averaging 30 or more minutes a game. While Houston does have the advantage of having rest to recharge, it’s only inevitable for their players to get tired out in the short timespan these games are taking place, and playing San Antonio in their second to last game.
If you’ve made it this far into the Spurs schedule breakdown, congratulations, you now know what the Spurs need to do for these upcoming eight games if they want to have a chance at the playoffs.
All these games could be considered a toss up between the months of rest and months to review tape. Along with the injury to Aldridge, expect the Spurs to have some significant changes to their rotations, and maybe an even bigger emphasis on the younger players having a more significant role. We’ll also get a better idea of how the Spurs will be playing following the scrimmage games that NBA teams will be allowed to play before the resumption of the season according to Marc Stein.
How do you think the Spurs will fare in these eight games in Orlando? Let me know as well as your thoughts on the Spurs schedule on Twitter @TyJagerRadio.