Please welcome Project Spurs' newest staff writer, Miguel Castro. Miguel comes to us with experience working for the Associated Press, the San Antonio Express-News and San Antonio Magazine. Feel free to welcome him in the comments and we hope you enjoy his debut post.
The San Antonio Spurs’ solid start to the 2010-11 season is put to the test over the next two weeks as they enter their annual Rodeo Road Trip.
In past seasons, the trip has proved to be pivotal in making the team stronger and eventually leading it to a solid regular season finish.
This year, even though they are off to a 40-7 start, the Silver and Black hope this year’s edition has the same effect as season’s past.
The Spurs hold the best record in the league with a 7½-game lead on the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference and 8½-game lead over Dallas in the Southwest Division.
Finish under .500 on the trip, and the previously aforementioned leads in the standings can quickly deteriorate, costing them a high seed and possible homecourt advantage in the playoffs.
Win enough road games to keep their distance, and they should remain in good position.
That, of course, is easier said than done.
This Rodeo Road Trip spans 17 days and consists of nine games, including three back-to-backs, with all but three games spent on the East Coast.
Take into account that five of the Spurs’ seven losses this season have been on the road with three coming against teams out of the Eastern Conference and there may be some cause for concern.
That is, until you take a closer look at their nine opponents.
Project Spurs breaks down each of San Antonio’s games and predicts how the Silver and Black will finish on the Rodeo Road Trip.
Portland, 9 p.m. on Feb. 1
The Spurs open their Rodeo Road Trip against a badly beaten and battered Trail Blazers team that has been bitten hard by the injury bug. The Spurs have enough health, rest and focus to pull this one out. Rodeo Road Trip record: 1-0.
L.A. Lakers, 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 3
Kobe Bryant struggled in their first meeting in San Antonio, missing 13 straight shots over nearly three quarters of play. Bryant puts on a much better performance this time around, and his teammates follow his lead. Rodeo Road Trip record: 1-1.
Sacramento, 9 p.m. on Feb. 4
The Kings are a young and talented team and do have recent wins over the Lakers and Hornets, and this is the first end of a back-of-back the Spurs will face. But with less than 10 home wins this year, the edge goes to San Antonio. Rodeo Road Trip record: 2-1.
Detroit, 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 8
The remainder of the road trip shifts to the East Coast and begins with the Pistons, who are outside of the Eastern Conference’s top eight teams. With Detroit having only a handful of wins against above .500 teams, this one’s a no brainer. Rodeo Road Trip record: 3-1.
Toronto, 6 p.m. on Feb. 9
As of Sunday, the Raptors had the second worst losing streak (11 games) in the NBA. Is there really anymore to say? Rodeo Road Trip record: 4-1.
Philadelphia, 6 p.m. on Feb. 11
In their first meeting with the Sixers, the Spurs used a 16-0 run to score a season-high 39 points in the first quarter and never look back. Should be a similar result in this one. Rodeo Road Trip record: 5-1.
Washington, 7 p.m. on Feb. 12
The Wizards had only beaten two Southwest Division opponents with games scheduled against the Mavericks and Hornets prior to their meeting with the Spurs. Washington won’t add anymore to that number. Rodeo Road Trip record: 6-1.
New Jersey, 6 p.m. on Feb. 14
Don’t expect San Antonio to show former Spur Avery Johnson or his Nets any love in this one. The Spurs dominate early in this one, once again resting their starters. Rodeo Road Trip record: 7-1.
Chicago, 7 p.m. on Feb. 17
Da Bulls have only suffered one loss to a Southwest Division team and that was the Spurs back on Nov. 17 in San Antonio. By this time, the Spurs, especially their starters, should be well rested and ready for this one. Still, Chicago hold a solid 23-4 record at home. Rodeo Road Trip record: 7-2.