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Why the Spurs Will Be Strong Western Conference Contenders…and How They Have Won NINE Straight

Okay. I know Linsanity is going on in New York and everyone is watching how the Philadelphia 76ers have turned around this season. But a number we can’t ignore is the Spurs’ nine game win streak. Yes, that’s right, NINE wins in a row. With this shortened NBA season, ANY sort of win streak is incredible (i.e. New York winning seven in a row), especially one that has been occurring on the road. That’s right. The Spurs are FINALLY winning on the road; six of their last nine wins have been victories away from their home court. The same Spurs team that had won only one road game and looked like they were headed in a downward spiral when they left the state of Texas.

But wait. Here we are now, approaching the All-Star break. Yes, it is still a little early to be figuring out where teams will be sitting in the playoffs, but we can see who is shaping up to be a strong contender in each conference. In the East, we know we will have Miami, Chicago, Orlando, Boston etc all heading to the playoffs. On the West, however, it appears more interesting. If the playoffs started tonight, the Spurs would have the number 2 seed (Oklahoma City leads them by a couple of games). The Spurs recently passed the LA Clippers for the second spot in the conference.  We can look at the Spurs’ schedule and see just how difficult their season has been.

So far on this road trip they have knocked off Memphis, Philadelphia and Oklahoma City. None of those teams are pushovers, either. The Grizzles are tied for eighth in the west, the Thunder sit at number one and the 76ers, who have been rising slowly this season, are third in the east (yes, those 76ers). Sure they have also faced New Jersey and New Orleans, but the strength of the Spurs’ schedule shows why/how they will go far in the playoffs this year. Looking at all the games they have played this season, the Spurs have also defeated the Clippers, Mavericks, Nuggets, Blazers, Magic and Hawks. None of those teams have lost more than 15 games this season, and several of them have lost fewer than 11. Knocking off those teams alone shows the consistency that the Spurs have exhibited so far this season.

The Spurs’ schedule does not get any easier, either. Before the All-Star break they will face the Chicago Bulls and Blazers again. After the break, they are going to see the Knicks, Clippers (again), Magic, Thunder, Mavs and 76ers  all within a month of each other. Luckily, the majority of those games will be at home (with the exception of the Thunder and Mavericks), though as of late one might think the Spurs would prefer to play on the road. With Manu Ginobili back, the Spurs proved they could still win with him on the court and not on the bench. While his numbers are down (in his past three games he has scored only 20 points), the fact that they are winning with his subpar performances show that they can only get better.

The Spurs have not had an easy season. Starting abysmal on the road must have been a wake up call for the team because their play as of late has been phenomenal. Tony Parker is averaging 17.8 points per game and Tim Duncan has finally found his groove, despite being snubbed of the All-Star game. Duncan is averaging a double double in his eight February games, ironically which have all been wins for the team. In the 8 loses, Duncan has averaged only 11 points and six rebounds, versus his 15 points and nine rebounds in victories.

Look at their schedule, people. The Spurs have been faced with a difficult schedule and a nine game win streak does not lie. The consistency the team has exhibited in their victories (they have won the nine games during the win streak by an average of nine points) despite the strength of their schedule shows why they will go far in the playoffs (unlike their early exit last year). They are also playing as a more unified team; more than one player is contributing to the win streak. Tony Parker took over the go-to-guy role when Ginobili went out and the Spurs have not looked back since. The fact that they have turned their season around by learning how to win on the road shows the experience and maturity of the team and their coach. The Spurs are not going to be out after the first round this year. Instead, they will go far in the post season because of their unity as a team and consistency they have exhibited during this win streak.

Next time I’ll be focusing on the Spurs bench; are they the deepest and best in the league? Or are they slowly running out of steam and the clock for them to make another championship run is running out?

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Chelsea is a college senior who is majoring in art history and minoring in communications. She plans to become a sports broadcaster. She is a former Division 1 athlete who rowed for a year and a half in college. She enjoys any and all sports, especially basketball. She plans to pursue her education in communication at the graduate school level. Follow her on Twitter: @chelseacurto

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In response to “Why the Spurs Will Be Strong Western Conference Contenders…and How They Have Won NINE Straight”

  1. brett Feb 16 201210:27 pm


    good writing, It is hard to find a Spur’s story. Go Spurs, beat LA

  2. Bobby Feb 17 201212:31 am


    Nice job Chelsea. Spurs are .500 on the road now. Toughest part of RR trip starts now. Wouldn’t you know and am surprised that you mentioned the other LA team. No mention of the older bunch. I like it. Mavs are playing better and Zac is coming back for the Grizz. West is even more competitive now as the Least is still full of bottom feeders. Read Manu’s article to Argentina news column and he talked about his game shape and still some fear when going for a steal. Can’t wait for him to get back to his old self and learn to play with Tiago better. This team is only getting better cause of that key injury. TJ can get cut for all I care when he is healthy. Thanks Chelsea. Good to see a writer that listens to their fans. Way to leave me waiting for your next article as I have been raving about their bench all year long though there is always room for improvement. Keep it up.

  3. Bobby Feb 17 20124:00 am


    Oh and so right on about the Linsanity. Spurs are flying under the radar while other news is being hyped. Defense has stepped it up except these last 2 games’ 3rd quarters. Turnovers were an issue earlier but they are slowly rising up again as well. Especially with the way Manu plays, they may increase as well. But then you see Manu take a charge to make up for his mistake. Nice to have Manu back. Green can learn a lot from him.

  4. Dan Feb 17 201211:31 am


    The storyline about the impending collapse of the Spurs has, itself, long ceased to be relevant. The Spurs dynastic capabilites have ceased. Don’t get me wrong. I am an avid Spurs fans and have been for 30 years. But, having worked for the organization in college, the glitz and glamour of the NBA does not blind me like many others in the Spurs Nation. Let’s all be clear — the Spurs have collapsed relative to the Spurs history. The team has historically been successful, only missing the playoffs a handful of times in over 40 years. But, qualifying of the playoffs and being drummed out in the first round is a world of difference from being a true championship favorite. At best, the Spurs remain an underdog heading into the playoffs despite the coaching genius of Pop. In that sense, they have all the potential of any team that reaches the playoffs … at least until the ball is tipped in the first game of the playoffs. Only a perfect storm will result in another championship fr San Antonio this year. But, as Dallas proved, the right timing can get the perfect results.

    Let me tell you why the Spurs are, again, on the outside looking in. First, the team is old. Although the Spurs were the oldest or one of the oldest teams when the won the championship in 2005 and 2007, those numbers are deceiving. Then, San Antonio’s core was young and Pop surrounded them with veteran role players. The converse is true now. The core is old and the role players are young and inexperienced. All of the good coaching Pop can impart cannot, and has not, been a sufficient substitute for experience. And, even Pop can’t make Parker, Duncan and Ginobili younger.

    Second, the overall talent is lacking. Duncan cannot carry a team even if he can be a solid contributor with some regularity. And, I stress “some regularity.” A real question remains whether Timmy can average a double-double in a lengthy, tightly-contested playoff series. Manu is injury prone and a bit streaky. Overlap his streakiness with Duncan’s inconsistent play and you have big stretches where the Spurs rely on Parker and the bench alone. It’s worked for a couple months in a lock-out shortened season. But, I question such success as teams find their groove deeper into the season.

    Third, the front office is paying the price for two big misses. This plays into the lack of talent mentioned above, but deserves special attention. While the R.C. and company found George Hill and Gary Neal, players likely to have good journeyman careers, there hasn’t been any big infusion of talent in years. The Richard Jefferson acquisition was a bust. And, although the Spurs were able to get him to restructure his deal, the point production simply isn’t there. The Spurs had another opportunity to secure a scorer at the 4/5 in Luis Scola, but committed a huge gaffe in letting him go to the Rockets for a paltry sum of cash. Be certain of this, the Spurs would have another ring, but for the decision to ship Scola away and leave the Spurs front court sorely short of quality scoring. At some point, you’ve got to ask, “What have you done for me lately, R.C.?” No, I’m not advocating getting rid of R.C., but I’d like to see some more big hits, like the Parker and Ginobili drafts. The Spurs have to have that uncanny, quality drafting if the team hopes to sustain winning without any lottery picks. which don’t come around frequently. In some ways, San Antonio and R.C. are victims of their prolonged success.

    Fourth, and last, is the money. I applaud the ownership for spending to win, including the luxury tax hits. And, over the long haul, their sacrifice has paid dividends in championships rings. But, the Duncan contract is an anchor around the team’s proverbial neck. There is no dispute that Duncan is one of the best forward to ever play the game. But, despite what his paycheck would suggest, he is past his prime. The fact that Duncan didn’t take a bit of a pay cut tells me that he’s soon finished with basketball regardless of what his back and legs will do. I recognize that the Spurs are now paying the price for prior success. To keep star players in San Antonio, you need a large financial commitment and special players. Robinson and Duncan, and to a lesser extent, Parker and Ginobili, have given loyal service, but the Spurs have paid for that loyalty. But, regardless of whether the money was well spent, there just isn’t that much to go around now. Duncan, Jefferson, Parker and Ginobili salaries are, combined, almost $56,000,000.00 this year. Thirty millions goes to underperforming Duncan and Jefferson. These number prevent San Antonio from landing any big free agents and rebuilding to become a true championship favorite.

    These issues leave my scream of “Go, Spurs, Go!” a little softer these days. But, whatever the future holds, I remain a proud Spurs fan.

    1. Roger Feb 17 20121:14 pm



      You can say that about a lot of teams. But how many teams can actually win with what you describe? You forget that have proven they win with team chemistry and coaching. Solid defense and a good deep bench is essential with this shorten NBA season. If one key player is out for any team they could drop out of the top 8 in the rankings.

      The Spurs play under the radar all of the time and do not get the respect of the league and ESPN that they deserve. You see stories about Linsanity which is a good story but so is 9 wins in a row. They have great leadership in Duncan, Parker, Manu, and the coaching staff and will go far into the playoffs.

      You said you were a Spurs fan, but are you? You seem to know quite a bit about the Spurs but how do we know you know a Laker or Mav fan. They seem to show up when the Spurs are doing well. The Spurs are a great team!!! Win or not will always be champions to our family.


      1. Dan Feb 19 20121:17 pm



        The Mavs and Lakers comment is just downright offensive. My heart still sinks remembering Fisher drilling that jumper in ’04. Questioning my loyalty would be futile.

        Two quick points. First, the fact that the Spurs are not media darlings does not bely the real roster issues they face. The media doesn’t even care enough to hate the Spurs. I get it. Second, the Spurs’ ability to do more with less, while flying under the radar, does mean they are poised for a championship win. The team can beat any team on any given night. But there is a big difference between consistently beating title pretenders and winning fourplayoff series. This team is more likely to bring the heartbreak of the ’90s and not the joy of the last decade.

        Hopefully, I will be proven wrong.

  5. Jason Feb 17 20123:44 pm


    Great Article Died Hard Spurs Fan. One thing to correct though they beat OKC @ home (last game @ home before 9 game road trip) But like the way they are playing right now hopefully they can keep it up and get ring number 5.

  6. Bobby Feb 17 20129:07 pm


    I guess no infusion of talent includes Kawhi who has the potential to be a better defender than Bowen and a better scorer. Green has found his niche by playing in a system that fits him. The infusion of Tiago who is the best backup center in the league. A double double on any night off the bench. Then his pick and rolls are so solid that he is making the other Spurs better. With his ability to slip the screen, it looks like Neal and Green are point guards. I guess that’s no infusion.
    As for the real big 3 being old, they are. Manu is back and has had plenty of rest. Tony is still young, c’mon man. His contribution this year has MVP talk but I don’t believe that will happen. Duncan is averaging less minutes, but when does play those minutes he is still producing. Chelsea brought up a good comparison between TDs and Marc Gasols numbers. Yep they are old but they have youth as well. A few tenths of a second and Spurs win streak would be longer. Strength of schedule has helped the Spurs other players besides the real big 3 get more confidence. I don’t like Ford but when he comes back look for TP to get some games off. Look for the Spurs to continue challenging for the top seed while Pop continues to monitor the minutes of the real big 3. So in conclusion, with the Spurs being able to continue to challenge and Pop monitoring minutes, I guess there’s no infusion of talent to keep it going. Spurs are still in contention.

    1. Dan Feb 19 20121:37 pm


      I didn’t say that there hasn’t been ANY infusion of talent. Leonard may be better than Bowen … some day. But suggesting that the front office has addressed the dearth of scoring in the front court is just not true. Splitter may be a consistent double-double guy in the NBA, but he’s not there yet. And, I seriously doubt he’ll be a 20 and 10 guy, versus a 10 and 10 guy. Bottom line is you can’t consistently draft 25th and later and maintain something like the Spurs’ core of the last decade. Let’s also be clear, the basketball gods smiled on S.A. in both of the team’s last lottery picks. They beat the odds and got number one picks when they counted most.

  7. Chelsea Curto Feb 19 201210:37 pm


    Thank you, everyone for your comments! I’m glad my writing can produce some friendly arguments and bring out people’s opinions! Bobby, thanks again for reading and enjoying the articles! I’ll have one about the Spurs bench before Tuesday! Dan, I agree with some of your points, especially the age factor. I’m going to incorporate that into my next article. I really appreciate your itself commentary! The Spurs have gotten almost NO media coverage during this 10 game win streak….I don’t think anyone expects them to succeed. Jason, I apologize for the error, thank you for correcting me!

    Again, thank you all for reading! Make sure to check back shortly for a new one :)

  8. Chelsea Curto Feb 20 201212:01 am


    New article up!! Check it out :)

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