Spurs

Spurs Facing Toughest Road Test of Season

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January has seen the Spurs post some underwhelming wins, and lose some games that they should have won. Coach Gregg Popovich said “Phoenix got robbed” after Rudy Gay‘s buzzer beater. While some fans may have thought his words were too harsh, it serves a warning to the players to stop playing down to the competition. He is asking his players to start playing to the standard of what “Spurs basketball” has come to mean.

San Antonio’s eight-game roadstand began with a loss in Sacramento, a game they let slip away. This was just the first stop in a grueling trip that includes stops in Golden State, Portland, Utah, Memphis, Toronto, New York and Brooklyn.

What Needs to Improve

Defense will need to pick up if the Spurs are to continue their trend of a winning record. The Spurs are over .500 on 14 of 15 Rodeo Road Trips. Particularly against the pick and roll, the players’ lack of help defense and communication allows opposing offenses to break down the Spurs’ defense too easily. They must improve on that end of the court if they are to compete with the better teams in the West come the playoffs. The Spurs will also have to improve on their 110.4 points allowed per game on the road this season. If not, then San Antonio will be forced to win shootouts, something they have shown they can do. However, this is not a recipe for sustained success on this difficult road trip.

Chance for Young Players

This trip is an important part of the season for Coach Pop. This is the time that he can assess the young talent while building team chemistry. The team is on the road, spending many nights together in hotels across the country. This is when the players really can learn about each other and develop bonds off the court. It’s a chance for young players to highlight their skills before the All-Star break. Lonnie Walker and Jakob Poeltl will gain valuable experience and minutes within the rotation. The younger legs of these players along with Bryn Forbes, Davis Bertans and Derrick White (when he returns from injury) will especially be important for the upcoming back-to-back games. The two back-to-back sets come against the Warriors and Blazers, followed with the Knicks and Nets to conclude the trip.

What to Expect

It will be interesting to see how Gregg Popovich handles the minutes of the veterans, while balancing time for the younger guys. All hands will need to be on deck, but the Spurs should be up for the challenge, hoping to solidify their presence in the wild wild west.

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About Gabriel Esparza

Born in El Paso, Texas. Life long, devout Spurs fan. Currently living in central New York, attending Syracuse University in the Masters of Education Program in Social Studies

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