With 25 games remaining on their schedule, the San Antonio Spurs are gearing up for the stretch run before the playoffs begin. The team is currently number one in the NBA at 47-10, but are still not at the level they need to be at come April.
The Spurs will be looking to figure out the best way to lock-up home court, stay healthy and improve their defense.
So in no particular order, I’ve compiled a list of the top five objectives to watch for in these final 25 games before the playoffs begin. Please note these numbers were based off games played prior to last night's Spurs win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
1. Get some rest and avoid the doctor
It is vital that the Spurs have a fresh unit by the time the playoffs come around. As I wrote in Views From The Couch on Tuesday, Manu is already the first player that is beginning to be affected by fatigue. After carrying the team for the first three months of the season, his production has begun to decline.
Manu is currently averaging 31.1 minutes per game. If the team can get him averaging anywhere from 28-30 minutes per night, and on occasion rest him on back-to-back nights. This could be the best method to preserve his body and keep him fresh for the playoffs.
Tim Duncan is averaging 28.8 minutes per game. Tim still looks fresh, and keeping him under 30 minutes this season has worked well. If he can stay along this pace, all signs are pointing to a Duncan with a full tank, ready to dominate in April.
Tony Parker is averaging 32.7 minutes per game and I expect him to either increase his minutes or slightly decrease to 31 minutes. Recently, Parker has taken the drivers seat in the Spurs racing machine (team) and has done so at a very efficient rate. Expect him to continue to lead the team offensively for the final two months.
The Dallas Mavericks didn’t know Caron Butler would be out with a season ending injury. The Portland Trailblazers didn’t know they’d lose Brandon Roy again. Why am I mentioning these players? Because in basketball, you never know when an injury is coming. As Spurs fans, for a moment against the Warriors earlier in the season, we thought we might have lost Duncan. The point is you can’t help it if a player gets injured. If it happens, it just happens. There’s no way to tell? You just have to hope for the best every single night and that the players stay injury-free. Let’s hope the Spurs can “avoid the doctor” at all cost.
2. Improve D-E-F-E-N-S-E and keep gunslinging