After five games on their Rodeo trip, the Spurs are holding on to 5th place in the West. They could have easily be in 4th place right now had they played well enough down the stretch against the Portland Blazers without Brandon Roy and capitalized on a Los Angeles Lakers team minus Kobe and Andrew Bynum.
This means the Spurs needs to toughen up from here on out if they want to make it to the post season.
If there is any consolation, the Spurs will have the All-Star Break to figure things out. After that, they will play three teams below .500, Indiana Pacers; Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons, before heading back home.
However, the rest of the schedule gets a lot tougher after the road trip. The Spurs will hit the road 16 more times and will play 20 teams above .500 in their last 28 games. That doesn't bode well for a team that is 11-11 on the road and 10-18 against teams with winning records.
If that doesn't sound brutal, consider this. The Spurs will have to play the top-tier teams -- Los Angeles Lakers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic twice and have plenty of crucial games that could greatly affect their playoff hopes. They will play the Oklahoma City Thunder, Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets and the New Orleans Hornets two more times. These teams are currently seeded 6th, 7th, 9th and 10th respectively in Western Conference.
On top of that, they will also face the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets and the Dallas Mavericks one more time before concluding the regular season. If the Spurs can’t get their act together in time, they could be in trouble.
In other words, the Spurs can't afford to make too many mistakes from now on. They have done enough of it early in the season. At this point, the margin for error is too small and any continued inconsistency could make or break their season.
The Spurs have to be a lot better on defense and execute smart basketball in close games or they will probably limp just to get to the playoffs or even possibly miss it for the first time in the Duncan era. It's a painful admission, but right now the Spurs look like a team lacking in confidence and searching for answers.
Last month, I questioned the team’s identity because of their lackluster defense. But I still have hopes things will turn around soon. If the Spurs want to salvage this season and try to make it happen in the playoffs, the time is now.
Will the Spurs make it to the playoffs? If they continue playing mediocre defense and rely on jump shots to win ball games they will not.
However, this team still has Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. All of whom have never missed the playoffs since they entered the league. The team will have to rely on their experience to set the example and guide this team to a strong finish.
It’s going to be a tough stretch but this team has too much pride and talent to let this season slip away without giving it a hell of a fight.
What do you think? Will the Spurs make it to the playoffs? Or will they miss it for the first time since Duncan joined the team? Share us your thoughts.