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Why the Spurs Will Be Strong Western Conference Contenders…and How They Have Won NINE Straight
Posted By Chelsea Curto On Feb 16 2012 @ 9:14 pm In San Antonio Spurs | 11 Comments
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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