If you missed our live season preview show last night, we've got you covered. We released part three, a Pacers preview with Jared Wade in our gameday Q&A earlier, and now we will be posting part two in an hour.
Thomas Vegas joined me to start the show to answer some questions about the Spurs newer players and if we will see any difference in Richard Jefferson this season.
Jeff Garcia joined in about five minutes in to talk about his outlook for the season and we finished things off with a great interview with Richard Oliver of the San Antonio Express-News and Fox Sports Southwest.
With the Spurs tipping off the 2010-11 season tonight against the Indiana Pacers, I talked to Josh Dhani of Always Miller Time for the first Gameday Q&A of the season. I also had a chance to talk to Jared Wade of Eight Points, Nine Seconds as part of our live season preview show last night and I've included that audio at the bottom of this post.
1. How does the addition of Darren Collison help the Pacers?
The addition definitely helps out. T.J. Ford is decent, but it isn't good enough for Indy to contend. The point guard spot is by far the weakest. Even though Indy had to give up Troy Murphy for him, I still believe Tyler Hansbrough and Roy Hibbert can become a good bunch.
2. Danny Granger is probably the most underrated NBA player. Do you think this is the year he gets the credit he deserves?
Yes, defintiely. With a much a much more improved team, Danny Granger can step up as the full-time leader. And with a good point guard and a center prepared for a breakout season, Granger can make himself one of the Top 10 players in the league by the time the season ends.
3. Manu Ginobili comes into this season in great shape after an offseason free of international play. While he went through a slump early on in the preseason, he got through that over the final two preseason games. How will Indiana defend him and keep him from torching Dunleavy?
Mike Dunleavy needs to get Ginobili good on defense. But if Dunleavy can't handle him and Ginobili gets on a roll, I expect Indy putting in Dahntay Jones, a defensive-stopper, and tame Manu.
4. What is the injury status for tonight's game?
Mike Dunleavy, Danny Granger, and T.J. Ford are a bit banged up, but it has healed down. They are all at least 99.9% to go.
5. What is your key matchup of the game and what is your prediction?
I think it is going to be Tim Duncan versus Roy Hibbert. Last season when the Spurs beat Indiana 100-99, Hibbert guarded Duncan fairly well throughout the game. However, Duncan got him last, getting the game-winning shot over Hibbert. Roy is much more improved, having MMA training and working out with legenary center Bill Walton over the summer. I expect Hibbert to try to bring some revenge.
Thanks to Josh for giving us his insight on the Pacers, and make sure to listen to the audio below. It is the third hour of our live season preview show from last night, which includes a game preview from Pacers blogger Jared Wade.
It was a Saturday afternoon, I was lying in bed sick with the flu, staring up at a ceiling fan blade still spinning four and a half minutes after it had been turned off, and I was considering the nature of the article you're reading now.
Western Conference Preview.
I pondered the premise and feelings rose up.
I was flipping through the mental Rolodex of conference preview articles I'd previously written, trying to find the thread that connected the ones which ended up being most relevant. I think I even wrote an article once about how much I dislike "power ranking style" previews. The thought playing on the front end of my brain that Saturday, like it is as I write this, is that while I've been called on to write a conference preview many times, and done so successfully, I don't really like the nature of them.
They always tend to be stale, inclusive to the point of being irrelevant, and trending just a tad overly optimistic. There has to be a way to make it not suck, I thought to myself before continuing to abuse my bottle of DayQuil. There has to be a way to bridge the gap between the voice inside our head that muses on reality free of pretense, and its inhibited and filtered counterpart that bends to what people thought and said yesterday.
What matters in a conference preview?
No. What matters in in a conference?
What matters? The team that ultimately wins the conference. That's not always clear, however. What could be considered clear? Well, definitely who's not winning the conference (yes, I'm looking at you Sacramento).
OK, OK, OK - I think I've got it.
Teams that matter.
Teams that might matter.
Teams that don't matter.
OK, here goes nothing:
Teams That Matter
Los Angeles Lakers
They're the best team in the world and they got better in the offseason. Matt Barnes was a huge addition: defense, perimeter shooting, and energy. They also added stability to their backcourt with the addition of Steve Blake. These two would have been a solid additions to any squad, but that they chose to bring their talents to L.A. speaks to the current state of the league, that now more than ever title defenders and contenders are monopolizing talent.
Their front court personnel (Gasol, Bynum, Artest, and Odom) are still the best in the league, and in a seven game series I don't see anyone being able to outscore/rebound this group, which will almost always score a playoff victory. As has been true of most title defenders, the regular season won't be as important for them as it was in previous seasons, and keeping the nucleus healthy for playoff time is more paramount than anything.
That being said, I think they will have a stellar regular season. I think Kobe Bryant's subtle improvements each offseason are made more apparent the better his crew gets, and I think he wins MVP this year, with L.A. finishing first in the conference.
Kevin Durant isn't just the most unappreciated basketball superstar in the league, he's like the most underrated human specimen on the planet. If you don't class him as a league impacting player who can single handedly shift the landscape of the Association, you aren't giving him enough credit. It's precisely because of his immense talents that the Thunder have the best chance of de-throning the Lakers.
Why, specifically? Because as of right now Kevin Durant is on the top three list of "people who can check Kobe Bryant" one-on-one and most of you still think he can't play D. In addition to the massive bucket of points KD hauls around with him, his length makes him a great match up on Kobe in key situations down the stretch and that could be the difference in a close playoff series.
Everything else about the Thunder is a given; they're a damn good team that will make a playoff run. The reason why they're the only other team on the "matters" list is because of how well they match up with the Lakers. They still have front court issues to overcome, but even with that hindrance they're still the best chance to take down L.A.
Team That Might Matter
(in no particular order)
I'm not particularly keen on the Mavs this season as a title contender, but if anyone fits the description of a "team that might matter" it's them. I'm not putting them down as a major threat to the Lakers in the west, but if they prove me wrong I don't expect my jaw to hit the ground or anything. Not a Tyson Chandler fan, personally, but he's a shot blocker and a finisher inside, and offensively at least, his production will increase playing with Kidd.
Dirk is still a superstar and Caron Butler will have his first full season with the team, so if they can get the chemistry, and offensive pecking order, and consistent defense worked out they have pieces in place to cobble together a run.
Here's my take on the Western Conference, and why the Jazz might matter: this whole dance is schemed on beating the Lakers. How do you beat the Lakers? 1) Find a way to contend with the best front court in basketball, 2) survive Kobe Bryant, and 3) don't get out coached every game.
Why the Jazz? Mehmet Okur, Al Jefferson, Andrei Kirilenko, and Paul Milsap are not a better front court than Gasol, Bynum, Artest, and Odom - but they're closer than anyone else in the conference. The addition of Raja Bell brings the clear number one defender role (the "shut down corner" to borrow a football term) to at least survive Kobe. Jerry Sloan, the sage embodiment of wisdom that he is, is maybe the only Jedi Master left (not named coach Pop) who can still cross lightsabers with the Zen Master.
I know some people have the Jazz slated for a first round exit, but they're my sleeper in the conference. They're not necessarily a contender, but another ideal example of a team that could be if they can just put their marbles together.
If Greg Oden could find a way to stay healthy enough to maybe gain some momentum for his career and stop being a bust, the Trailblazers could have a shot at really being the young dangerous team everyone wants them to be. The good news: even if he doesn't Brandon Roy is a star, and that front court, even minus Oden, still isn't that bad. Camby and Aldridge are an imposing front court tandem, and even Pryzbilla (if healthy) is serviceable on the defensive end.
It will require a tremendous amount of focus throughout the season to snag a higher end seed for the playoffs, but if they get on a roll at the right time, they're staffed to potentially upset someone to get into the Conference Finals and then who knows what might go down.
San Antonio Spurs
I think the identity of the team is fluctuating, and I think it has to stabilize itself considerably before the playoffs if the Spurs want to make another run. There's a lot of room for a potential talent explosion (James Anderson, Tiago Splitter, Blair, Hill), but all of that "potential" could also swing the other way under pressure. Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili can take you so far, but given the inevitable trend of their collective health, we now know that this trio is not going to haul the team to a title by themselves - significant and consistent contributions from a core group of three or four other players will have to be in the mix.
What changes the outlook is the idea of this team in the playoffs, healthy. If it happens, they're instantly a title contender in my mind. Tim Duncan, healthy and in the playoffs is still the most dominant interior presence in the conference and that means a great deal, especially considering the Lakers and their front court. If the young talent on this team can aggressively grow and push this team forward, the veteran core will have a chance to stay healthy and come through in the post season.
Team That Don't Matter
(in no particular order)
I don't care how many points they score. Yeah, I like 'Melo, too, but they're a jump shooting team and don't play D. That makes them incapable of a title run.
They lost Amare and when given the opportunity to shift the makeup of their squad, they added more shooters. They are not built for championship basketball in the current NBA, and management just doesn't get it. Yes they're a good team, but they don't matter because they're not built to beat the teams that do. Period.
They don't have nearly enough firepower offensively to do much of anything, and bringing in Kevin Martin to jack up thirty shots a game in a futile effort to try and drag your otherwise offensively busted ass team isn't going to accomplish much other than give K-Mart an All-Star appearance, a tired shooting shoulder, and an otherwise sour disposition as he looks around for some help.
New Orleans Hornets
Something bad happened to the Hornets, and I'm not even sure what it was. Most of their core seems more intent on jumping ship than buckling down and rekindling what they had going a couple of seasons ago. Somebody get Dr. House in here to diagnose what the hell happened to these guys.
Golden State Warriors
Lots of young talent here, lots of athleticism, lots of good shooting... too bad it's all two or three seasons away from being cohesive and developed enough to matter. I have hopes for this team down the road; keeping Curry, Ellis, Biedrins, and Lee together long enough may be a challenge, but if possible this crew could be something three years from now.
I like Rudy Gay. Do I like him enough to give him $82 million? Nope. There's good young talent here, for certain, but some core additions are necessary and Lord almighty I hope the money doesn't ruin the closest thing to a go-to guy the Grizzlies have.
Los Angeles Clippers
Baron, you're my boy, and I wish you had left in you what you once did. I think the age and injuries have caught up to you, and this squad isn't ready yet anyway. Best of luck, B-Dizzle.
|SPURS||Tim Duncan 17.9||Tim Duncan 10.1||Tony Parker 5.7|
|PACERS||Danny Granger 24.1||Roy Hibbert 5.7||Darren Collison 5.7|
The San Antonio Spurs will open their regular season against the Indiana Pacers at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. Both teams made significant moves over the summer to improve their roster.
The Indiana Pacers drafted rookie Paul George and traded big man Troy Murphy in the offseason to acquire the services of Darren Collison and defensive specialist James Posey.
The Spurs on the other hand, added Brazilian big man Tiago Splitter, resigned Matt Bonner and Richard Jefferson, picked up the option year of George Hill, drafted rookie James Anderson and signed shooter Gary Neal to a 3-year contract from Italy.
The Pacers missed the playoffs last season while Spurs were eliminated by the Phoenix Suns during the 2010 Western Conference playoffs semi-final round.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Offense -- The Spurs tried to run more during their preseason games and have scored a lot in transition. It will be interesting to see if this trend will continue against an athletic team like the Pacers. Also, it will be key for the Spurs to established their inside game early and take advantage against the Pacers' young frontcourt.
Defense -- Limit Danny Granger on offense scoring and focus on the Pacers' dribble penetrations. Contain Collison. He out of the shadow of Chris Paul and will want to prove he is capable of being the starter. Tony Parker will have to take it to him and test him out of defense.
Offense -- The Pacers' offensive strength is on their backcourt with Danny Granger and Darren Collison. Both can explode on the offensive end on any given night. Also, keep an eye out for the Roy Hibbert versus Tim Duncan matchup. Hibbert has had some solid performances against Duncan. Another aspect is shooting. This team needs to make shots in order to have a chance against the Spurs.
Defense -- Focusing on the Spurs' inside game is a must. However, the Spurs also have a deep backcourt that includes Parker, Manu Ginobili and George Hill. So it will be a pick your poison game for the Pacers.
Spurs -- Tiago Splitter - strained right plantaris muscle (out).
Pacers -- Mike Dunleavy - bruised left knee (day-to-day), T.J. Ford - hamstring (day-to-day).
PREDICTION: Splitter will likely watch the Spurs' opening night on the bench, but that doesn't mean the Spurs are undermanned. Tim Duncan, DeJuan Blair and Antonio McDyess should have the advantage against the Pacers' frontcourt of Hibbert, Tyler Hansbrough and Josh McRoberts.
However, this will be a good test for the Spurs' perimeter defense, Jefferson will have his handsful as he goes up against Granger. The team that plays better defense and dictate the tempo will eventually win the game.
The Spurs will beat the Pacers to start the new season on the right foot.
We'll be going live tonight from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. CST for our season preview show. We'll have Richard Oliver and Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News and Jared Wade of Eight Points, Nine Seconds joining us throughout the show. Feel free to call in when we don't have a guest on and participate in the live chat, which we'll open up at 6:30 p.m.
CALL-IN NUMBER: 210-787-3627
The Spurs' big three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have been together since 2003. If you ask anyone, save for ESPN, that trio is considered among the best "big threes" in the NBA.
While there is no doubting that Duncan, Parker and Ginobili have been the most important pieces for most of the last decade, there has always been one player I consider the "plus one."
Bruce Bowen filled that role for quite a while, Manu Ginobili was the plus one in 2003 when Robinson, Duncan and Parker were the Spurs' key players in that championship run. Before that, you could consider either Avery Johnson, Sean Elliott or Mario Elie to fill that role.
Last season, while most expected Roger Mason to step into that role after a successful first season, George Hill became the player that kept the Spurs afloat when Tony Parker was sidelined with injuries.
While Hill proved the Spurs knew what they were doing when they drafted the little-known point guard out of IUPUI after his rookie year, he took steps in his second year with the team to solidify him as a reliable contributor. He ended his sophomore campaign averaging 12.4 points and 2.9 assists per game while shooting 47 percent from the field and 39 percent from beyond the arc. Hill also finished second behind Aaron Brooks for Most Improved Player voting.
Hill came into training camp this year in the best shape of his career and seemed to be on a completely different comfort level. His work in the offseason, which included five-hour workouts four times per week since July, put him into game shape on the first day of training camp.
Aside from working on his body this offseason, Hill worked on extending his range, developing a floater and studied the intricacies of the point guard position.
And while he struggled through a shooting slump throughout the preseason, there's no doubt in my mind that he will take even more steps this year to have a breakout year.
But don't call Hill the "plus one" this season. While many prematurely called Parker, Ginobili, Duncan and Hill "the big four" during last season's playoffs, he'll earn his spot alongside that trio this season.
Coach Gregg Popovich will tip off the 2010-11 season with Manu Ginobili in the starting lineup. That's not because he thinks James Anderson will suffice in the second unit, it's because Hill has earned the respect and trust of his teammates and coach, and Popovich can count on Hill to provide some energy, scoring and defense off the bench.
Don't believe me? Ask ESPN's David Thorpe.
Hill has shown us numerous times that he is a serious player in the NBA, but we've never seen it consistently. It's tough to be consistent when the minutes are not, but that's life in the NBA on a solid team. Hill projects to get consistent minutes this year for a few reasons, not the least of which is how much the Spurs need his energy and athleticism. He shot 39.9 percent from 3-point range last season, which should help guarantee him even more time. His defense will be a big help, too, as the Spurs have to improve on that end if they want a return to glory.
The rest of the NBA will see the same starting tomorrow and throughout this season. I won't go as far as to predict Hill's numbers, because as Bowen proved in his time with the Spurs, stats only tell one part of the story. But Hill being a top contender for the Sixth Man of the Year award is a prediction I'm willing to put money on.
The San Antonio Spurs have not won an NBA title since 2007 and as early as October, a lot of people are already counting them out and are predicting a possible Los Angeles Lakers- Miami Heat NBA Finals showdown.
This is not new for a team which has been overlooked or even under-appreciated in the past. In fact their "under-the-radar" approach gave them four titles in less than a decade, a fact that not many NBA teams can claim.
How many times did we read or hear that the Spurs are done and yet they kept coming back? Yes they haven't been a serious threat for the past three years, and people will be quick to point out their aging core as the main reason and dismiss them as title contenders.
Look, the Spurs are better than a year ago. The question is will that be enough to win another title?
For the Spurs, the road to another championship starts with the 'Big 3' and as long as they can stay healthy the Spurs will have a chance. But it doesn't end there, this upcoming season there are more reasons to believe that they can get it done.
This team continue to find ways to stay relevant even as their core ages.
The emergence of George Hill was a welcome surprise last season and he is looking to fill a major role off the Spurs' bench. DeJuan Blair had a solid rookie season and is primed for a great sophomore year, Richard Jefferson worked hard over the summer for a chance to chase an NBA title and the addition of Tiago Splitter and the return of a healthy Tony Parker on his contract year means the Spurs can compete.
The biggest question that surrounds the Spurs right now is their depth at the small forward position. They have Jefferson and little else.
However, rookie James Anderson appears to be getting comfortable with the team and may have earned a shot at being in the regular playing rotation at small forward. Also, the Spurs could be leaning towards to keep a 14-man roster at the start of the season, plus Ginobili can slide at the three-spot when needed. That means the Spurs might be deeper at the small forward position than originally expected.
Ultimately, the Spurs' recent moves have kept their championship window open for at least another year and at the same time set a foundation for the future.
With some doubting them yet again, I'm not giving up on the Spurs. Not with a team which has infused some youth to their veteran core and fortified their frontcourt, and certainly not with a team that has a healthy Parker, Ginobili and Duncan in tow.
What are your thoughts? Can the Spurs win another NBA title?
Can you hear it? The sounds of fans cheering in the AT&T Center, the squeaking of sneakers across the basketball court and mariachi music playing throughout the arena right before tipoff.
That's right the San Antonio Spurs are about to kick off the 2010-2011 NBA season.
There is so much to look forward to from the Spurs this season. The arrival of Tiago Splitter, the development of DeJuan Blair, a rested Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, and much more.
But for as much as we will be following the Spurs throughout the season, there are the other teams which make up the Southwest Division.
So without further adieu here are the challengers to the division crown and how they stack up heading into the new season.
New Orleans Hornets:
During the offseason, Chris Paul made it very clear he would like to see the Hornets improve to challenge for the NBA crown and intimated he would like to move on should the organization not assemble a solid team. Now he has backed off that sentiment.
Their key additions were Dell Demps to take the reigns as General Manager, Monty Williams as the new head coach, Trevor Ariza, D.J. Mbenga, Marco Belinelli and rookie Quincy Pondexter. All will help get the Hornets back on track as Western Conference powers.
It goes without saying the Hornets need to have a healthy Paul, who suffered injuries last season, to remain in the thick of thing in the Western Conference. Also, with Williams being a product of the San Antonio Spurs' system, expect the Hornets to focus on defense and placing Emeka Okafor at the foundation of their defense. Ariza will also be a nice player to run with Paul on the fast break.
David West may have dropped off statistically last season but remains a low-post threat. Marcus Thorton will continue to flourish as he might be inserted into the starting lineup.
After a disappointing loss in the first round of the 2010 NBA playoffs against the Spurs, the Mavericks went back to the drawing board in the offseason.
Perhaps the biggest story for Dallas in the offseason was the resigning of Dirk Nowitzki who flirted with the idea of testing free agency.
Now the question is whether the Mavericks are title contenders despite their talented roster?
They added Dominique Jones and Tyson Chandler in the offseason to play along side Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, Caron Butler, Shawn Marion and up-and-coming guard Rodrigue Beaubois. But are any of these players enough to be the second option on the Mavericks?
The addition of Chandler will bolster their interior which also includes Brendan Haywood. This will present a problem for opposing teams' offense. They will also have to monitor Chandler seeing how he played with Team USA during the summer.
Regardless, this team is talented enough to capture the division crown but the real test will be their performance in the playoffs.
Young, talented and improving. This Grizzlies team is on the verge of being the next "Oklahoma City Thunder" squad if they maintain their direction.
The biggest offseason move was to resign Rudy Gay though some feel Gay wasn't a max-contract player.
Nevertheless, they added veteran Tony Allen, Greivis Vasquez, Acie Law, and Xavier Henry to an already young and talented squad made of OJ Mayo, Gay, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, and Zach Randolph. The foundation is there and this team might be ready for the next step.
What to watch for is simple -- will Hasheem Thabeet finally live up to the hype as a top lottery pick and will Gay lead this team deep in the playoffs after getting that huge contract?
Yao Ming returns to the Rockets this season and sitting out all of last season with a foot injury and the subsequent surgery to correct it. Though his minutes will be limited.
While most of the attention is focused on the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks to battle for the division crown, this is a dangerous team for the two other Texas teams.
The team is deep and talented. Luis Scola (who had a phenomenal performance in the 2010 World Championship), Aaron Brooks, Shane Battier, Brad Miller, Kevin Martin, Chase Budinger, Kyle Lowry and Courtney Lee.
However, like a broken record, this team's playoff chances depends on the health of Ming. The West has size (see the Los Angeles Lakers, Mavericks and Spurs) and Ming will have to shoulder the load in the paint.
Also, Brooks and Martin are an explosive offensive backcourt but they will have to improve on defense.
Last year the San Antonio Spurs season ended in the Western Conference semi-finals with a four game sweep brought on by the Phoenix Suns. Since then, Spurs fans have been eager to get the 2010-2011 season underway.
So whether you are heading out to the AT&T Center, your favorite sports bar or going to gather up the family and friends to catch a game on TV from the comfort of your own home, here are a few key games to watch from each month.
In November the Spurs play three key games to watch:
- 14th at Oklahoma City
- 22nd vs. Orlando
- 26th vs. Dallas
On November 14th the Spurs hit the road against the young, up-and-coming Oklahoma City Thunder led by MVP candidate hopeful Kevin Durant.
In 2009-2010, the Spurs went a impressive 3-1 against the Thunder with their three wins coming by a combined total of 12 points and the one loss only being by three points.
While the Miami Heat made the most noise this offseason, the Orlando Magic are still a powerhouse team in the east and when these two teams meet up, it’s always a great game to watch. This will be an early test for the Spurs to see how they fair against one of the best teams in the league.
The game against the Dallas Mavericks just adds yet another chapter to this great in-state rivalry. You don’t want to miss the first time these two teams meet up, especially since the Mavericks have nothing but revenge on their minds after being sent home in the first round by the Spurs last year.
In December the Spurs play four key games to watch:
- 12th vs. Portland
- 23rd at Orlando
- 28th vs. L.A. Lakers
- 30th at Dallas
The Portland Trailblazers are also a young, up-and-coming team much like the Thunder however, in the 2009-2010 season, the Spurs were winless against the Trailblazers. The Spurs went 0-3 against Portland losing twice on the Trailblazers' home court and once in the Alamo City. The Spurs are looking to rebound from the beatings the Blazers handed out last year so this is a must watch game.
Also in this month is round two of the Spurs-Magic heavyweight bout, except this time the game takes place in Florida.
The Spurs will get their first crack at the back-to-back defending champions Los Angeles Lakers team on the 28th in San Antonio. These two teams split the four games they played last season with each team winning on the opposing teams floor.
The game against the Mavericks goes without saying as a must watch game. Round two of this battle for Texas takes place two days before the end of the year.
In January the Spurs play four key games to watch:
- 1st vs. Oklahoma City
- 5th at Boston
- 14th vs. Dallas
- 29th vs. Houston
The Spurs kick off the new year with a home game against the Thunder. This is going to be a tough task seeing as how most teams will be in full swing by this point in the season and the Thunder will be extremely dangerous during this time. This will give us more of a idea of the kind of season the Spurs are in for when these two teams meet to start off 2011.
A few days later the Spurs will go on the road to face the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics. The Celtics have added the O’Neal boys (Shaquille and Jermaine) to their roster to overcome the loss of Kendrick Perkins. Despite what everyone may say about Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and company, the Celtics are the team to beat in the east and they proved that last season when they made it back to the finals for the second time in three years.
Round three of the Spurs-Mavericks is set for the 14th of this month and it will be the last time Dallas plays in San Antonio during the regular season.
The game against the Houston Rockets on the 29th is the second time these teams meet in the season, however, Houston typically does not get going until mid to late season, so this is what makes this game a must see.
In February the Spurs play three key games to watch along with the annual rodeo road trip*:
- 1st at Portland
- 3rd at L.A. Lakers
- 23rd vs. Oklahoma City
Every year the Spurs go on the “Rodeo Road Trip” during the month of February and have done so since 1999. This year kicks off with two tough games back to back against Portland and the Lakers. Luckily these are the only two Western Conference playoff teams from the 2009-2010 season that the Spurs will play in this years road trip.
The remaining games on the road trip are against the Sacramento Kings, Detroit Pistons, Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers, Washington Wizards, New Jersey Nets and Chicago Bulls. The Spurs will then come home and play against the Thunder on the 23rd. After the long road trip the Spurs will be in need of some home cooking and Durant will not make it a easy homecoming.
Last year the Spurs came home from the Rodeo Road Trip to play the Thunder and were able to get a win 95-87 and stopped Durant’s scoring of 30 or more points per game streak. This should be another classic match up that will take place just days after the NBA All-Star break.
*Rodeo road trip is from February 1st through the 17th and includes nine games.
In March the Spurs play eight key games to watch:
- 4th vs. Miami
- 6th vs. L.A. Lakers
- 12th at Houston
- 14th at Miami
- 18th at Dallas
- 25th at Portland
- 28th vs. Portland
- 31st vs. Boston
The Spurs will have to wait until late in the season before they get their match up against the newly rebuilt Heat. The Heat made the biggest noise this off season with the signings of LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Every team has circled their calendar when they play Miami and with good reason. The Heat are considered to be the favorites to come out of the East and possibly even win the NBA trophy. The Spurs get to play them twice in this month, once in San Antonio and again near the middle of the month in Miami.
The Spurs also play Portland twice in this month along with playing the two teams from last years finals, Lakers and Boston Celtics.
The conclusion of the Spurs-Mavericks rivalry is also featured during this month and the Spurs will travel to Houston on the 12th to play against the other part of the “Texas Triangle.”
In April the Spurs play two key games to watch:
- 1st at Houston
- 12th at Lakers
The Spurs will travel to Houston to play the fourth and final game against the Rockets during the regular season. The Rockets may be battling to get a playoff spot and the Spurs would love nothing more than to set them back on their playoff plans.
On their second to last game of the season the Spurs will travel to Los Angeles to play the Lakers for the final time of the regular season. With the West coming down to the last game of the regular season to determine seeding, this may end up being a huge game if the Spurs are jockeying for position in the west.
These are the games that stand out to me before the season starts, as you well know, teams get “hot” during different times of the season which would in turn create more games to watch.