After a thrilling 124-120 overtime win against the Utah Jazz on Friday that swept their six-game home-stand, helped avoid a season sweep from the Jazz, and provided much needed a two-game cushion in the standings, the mostly healthy Spurs will look to take their current form on the road, where they have been far less successful this season.
San Antonio Spurs (43-30) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (38-34)
March 25, 2018 | 2:30 PM CT
Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs injuries: Kawhi Leonard (return from injury management)
Bucks injuries: Giannis Antetokounmpo (ankle - game time decision), Malcolm Brogdon (quad), Matthew Dellavedova (ankle)
Moving on from The Kidd
Jason Kidd has become synonymous with the cautionary tale of players jumping directly into head coaching positions immediately after retirement, especially at the NBA level. After retiring in 2013, Kidd returned to coach the team most closely associated with his prime: the Brooklyn Nets.
It was a semi-successful season as he took an underwhelming but talented Nets squad to the second round of the playoffs after a slow start, but his lone season there was also rife with awkward moments, like an uninspiring jersey retirement ceremony during the preseason in front of a crowd he never played for since the Nets were in New Jersey during his heyday, pleading guilty to a DWI charge, and infamously instructing a player to “hit me” and spill his soda to gain an extra timeout.
Then, in an unusual move, the Nets suddenly traded his rights to the Bucks even though Milwaukee still had Larry Drew under contract, and it was later revealed that after a failed power grab of the Nets’ management position, Kidd wanted out because, to him, they weren’t interested in building a contender. His time with the Bucks was certainly less dramatic, if a little less successful as he could do no more than lead them to near-0.500 records and first round exits in two of his three-plus seasons there.
This was supposed to be the season the Bucks to the next step towards contention in the East thanks to rising young talent like Antetokounmpo, reigning ROY Brogdon, Khris Middleton, and Jabari Parker. Similar to the Spurs, injuries haven’t helped the Bucks’ cause this season, but management still decided it was time to move on from Kidd after a 23-22 start and promoted assistant coach Joe Prunty (who was a Spurs assistant from 2002-05) to interim head coach.
They currently sit at 38-34 and are battling with the Miami Heat for 7th in the East, but they are on a downward trend with all the injuries and are the only playoff-bound team with negative point differential (-0.5).
Can the Spurs duplicate their home success on the road?
One of the Spurs few home losses this season came all the way back in mid-November when they couldn’t handle The Greek Freak down the stretch. While Antetokounmpo is a likely game-time decision after he missed their win over the Bulls with a sprained ankle (he practiced on Saturday and plans to decide if he can go at shoot around), the Bucks will still be shorthanded against the Spurs, and it will be one of the few times The Good Guys are healthier than their opponent.
They’re coming off a perfect 6-game home-stand that including beating five playoff teams, all with better records than the Bucks, but if the Spurs are Dr. Jekyll at home, they’ve been Mr. Hyde on the road, sporting a 14-22 record away from the AT&T Center and only 2-7 since the start of the Rodeo Road Trip.
LaMarcus Aldridge has been a huge part of the Spurs turnaround at home, and his supporting cast has been there to help him for the most part. All parties will need to show up on both ends of the court if they hope to carry their newfound success onto the road, The early tip-off will mean a short turnaround, which is only compounded by the overtime. That could mean less minutes for players like Manu Ginobili, so the young guys will need to be ready if called upon.
In only two weeks this season has gone from teetering on the brink of disaster to 50 wins not being outside the realm of possibility once again. The Spurs still control their own destiny, and fixing their road woes will go a long way towards extending their ceiling a little bit more.
Vegas prediction: Spurs by 1.5.
Game prediction: Spurs by 5.
For the Bucks fan’s perspective, visit Brew Hoop.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher.
PtR’s Gamethread will be up this afternoon for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.