Even though the Rodeo Road trip started with a win against Golden State last night, Project Spurs writers David Thiessen and Shawn Kirsch project the entire road trip game-by-game.
Monday, Feb. 2 - Golden State Warriors (105-92)
The Spurs have always handled the Warriors and their matador-like defense easily. I don't see that changing this time. The Spurs are something like 2857-0 when scoring 100 points or more, and they should have no trouble doing that against the Warriors.
Tuesday, Feb. 3 - Denver Nuggets (98-96)
This is the second toughest game of the RRT and the one I'm most likely wrong about. The Nuggets are a very good team this year, and with the series 1-1, both teams will see this as an important game for tiebreaker reasons. Still, I think the Spurs will come focused knowing that the RRT trip is the time to find their playoff form.
Sunday, Feb. 8 - Boston Celtics (90-78)
Like the Lakers, I think the Celtics have too much talent for the Spurs to handle. The game will be close at half time but the Celtics will pull away in the third quarter and the Spurs offense will struggle. The Spurs have a chance to win of course, but it will take great games from the Big Three plus another player, most likely Roger Mason, stepping up.
Tuesday, Feb. 10 - New Jersey Nets (100-92)
The Nets gave the Spurs trouble the last time they met, but I think the Spurs will rebound after a frustrating loss. Pop always does a great job at refocusing the players, and they know that this is an important road trip. Look for Ginobili to play strong after a disappointing game two nights before.
Wednesday, Feb. 11 - Toronto Raptors (102-96)
Like most of the teams in the Eastern Conference, the Raptors have enough talent to contend with most teams but they are inconsistent. If Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani are playing well, they have a chance to beat the Spurs on the second of a back-to-back. However, they seem frustrated after not playing like they expected and the Spurs will beat them with consistency.
Tuesday, Feb. 17 - New York Knicks (110-103)
Mike D'Antoni coaches the Knicks, which means the Spurs will win. I like watching D'Antoni's system as much as the next guy, and he does a great job getting the most out of his players offensively. However, the Spurs know how to beat him. They will once again score over 100, solidifying the win.
Thursday, Feb. 19 - Detroit Pistons (88-85)
Since January 7, the Pistons are 4-10 with losses to Indiana, Charlotte and Oklahoma City. They are clearly struggling to find an identity. Meanwhile the Spurs are starting to find their identity. At this point they are 5-1 on the RRT and feeling good about themselves. It will be a close game most of the way, but the Spurs are just more focused.
Saturday, Feb. 21 - Washington Wizards (97-88)
The Wizards are tied with the Clippers for the league's worst record, giving the Spurs an easy win to finish the RRT. The Wiz are the worst kind of bad team - one without an identity. They have made the playoffs recently and still have Butler and Jamison, so are they rebuilding or have the pieces just not come together this season? Either way the Spurs easily dispatch them.
Spurs 105 - Warriors 87
The Spurs will roll into Golden State eager to begin the Rodeo Road Trip. Golden State, still incorporating Monta Ellis back into the rotation, will struggle to score against the San Antonio defense.
Spurs 87 - Nuggets 103
Opening the Rodeo Road Trip with a back to back will not be easy, and Denver will be looking to take advantage of that. With Anthony back from injury, and Billups looking to lead this team to the playoffs, Denver will be looking to attack San Antonio early. With the Spurs still in the mode of the previous night's fast-paced game, the tempo will be right where Denver wants it, and the Spurs will be outplayed.
Spurs 93 -- Celtics 88.
With a few days rest, and a severe tongue lashing from Popovich, the Spurs will be coming to Boston eager to shut down their big three. Duncan will have his hands full trying to get rebounds from Garnett, Perkins, and Rondo, much less trying to score against them. But after a hard fought game, Parker's penetration will prove to be too much to handle, and some clutch threes from Mason will put this game away.
Spurs 110 -- Nets 80.
While much attention will be placed on super speedy All-Star point guards Devin Harris and our own Parker, the Spurs big three will overwhelm the young Nets, especially rookie Brooke Lopez. This will pave the way for the Spurs veterans to sit much of the fourth quarter, enabling some of the Spurs bench, namely George Hill, to get some valuable minutes and show what they can do.
Spurs 91 -- Raptors 89
On the second night of a back to back, the Spurs will be facing a team in turmoil. However, Chris Bosh, always eager to face a foe with the talents of Duncan, will step his game up to another level and single-handedly keep the Raptors in the game. It won't be enough though, as the Spurs will bomb away from the three-point line.
Spurs 83 -- Knicks 78
San Antonio will be caught off guard as the underrated David Lee puts up close to a triple-double, and Al Harrington chooses this game to come on fire and hit everything he shoots. The Spurs will gut it out defensively though, with the final score right where Popovich wants it.
Spurs 97 -- Pistons 93 (OT)
With Detroit starting to pull together, the Spurs will find themselves in an intense battle. Wallace and Maxiell will cause problems down low, as Prince uses his length to disrupt things. San Antonio will appear to have won it, but Iverson will nail a long distance three to beat the buzzer. With most starters fouled out on each team, the Spurs bench will prove to be better, winning it in overtime.
Spurs 115 -- Wizards 83
With Butler struggling and Jamison unable to carry this team on his back, the Spurs will easily dispatch of the Wizards. San Antonio will be able to rest their entire starting lineup for all of the fourth quarter, and their bench will merely finish what the starters set up.å