The San Antonio Spurs are 20 games deep into the 2019-2020 campaign, and it’s safe to say the returns have been disappointing.
A franchise once known for its stingy defense has flipped the script on that end of the court. And their famously conservative offense has transformed into an even more reserved and outdated attack that still somehow ranks 8th in the league in offensive efficiency.
Unfortunately, this role reversal of sorts hasn’t resulted in productive basketball. The Silver and Black have dropped to 12th place in the Western Conference behind a 7-13 start, and sit on the outside of the playoff race.
DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge continue to be double-edged swords, while DeJounte Murray and Derrick White have swapped places in the starting lineup. In other news, DeMarre Carroll and Lonnie Walker IV remain glued to bench in favor of Marco Belinelli and Bryn Forbes.
Not all is bad in Spursland though. Patty Mills has maintained his offensive resurrection, Jakob Poeltl has become a premier rim protector, and San Antonio ended the longest losing streak of the Gregg Popovich era.
Though the first quarter of the season hasn’t gone their way, they still have 62 games left to right the ship. Keeping that in mind, it’s time to examine who stands between the Spurs and a handful of much-needed victories over the next ten games.
Dec. 1: San Antonio Spurs @ Detroit Pistons
The Spurs struggled to win on the road last season, and they’ve continued the trend this year. Thankfully, you can hardly call what the Pistons have at Little Caesars Arena home-court advantage.
Detroit is coming off a close home loss to the bottom-feeding Charlotte Hornets, and San Antonio just took down the championship-hopeful Los Angles Clippers. Both teams have been equally unsuccessful to this point, but it looks like they may be headed in opposite directions.
You might assume the return of Blake Griffin would help the Pistons’ cause, but they’re 2-5 since his season debut. The Spurs are better in almost every way, and this should be a fairly straightforward game.
Dec 3: San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets
Whenever these two Western Conference rivals get together, you know you’re in for a show. Let’s just hope this isn’t a one-sided parade.
The Rockets recently broke a three-game losing streak, and they previously won eight in a row before their skid. It’s also fair to mention all three of those losses came to serious playoff contenders (DEN, LAC, and DAL).
While the Spurs are out of the postseason picture at the moment, beating Houston at home would be monumental. Containing the third-best offense in the league won’t be easy, and one great defensive showing doesn’t have me convinced they’re up for the task.
Dec 6: San Antonio Spurs vs. Sacramento Kings
The Kings are one of four teams standing between the Spurs and the eighth seed out West. With Marvin Bagley III and De’Aaron Fox sidelined due to injury, Sacramento will be far from 100%.
San Antonio will still have to limit Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, and Bogdan Bogdanović, but that becomes much simpler when you have fewer scoring threats to worry about.
Sacramento is in the bottom half of the league in defensive and offensive efficiency, so if the Silver and Black can bring their top ten offense to the contest, they should be en route to their ninth dub of the season.
Dec 12: San Antonio Spurs vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs are one of the worst teams in the NBA, and the Spurs will have nearly a week of rest to prepare for this incredibly favorable matchup.
Kevin Love isn’t what he used to be, and the redundancy of Darius Garland, Jordan Clarkson, and Collin Sexton shows how lost this downtrodden organization has become without the guidance of LeBron James.
Dec 14: San Antonio Spurs @ Phoenix Suns
Phoenix has been surprisingly competitive this year. They’ve yet to lose by more than 16 points, and their 8-10 record could easily be 12-6 had they closed out tight games.
Devin Booker is quietly on pace for the 13th 50-40-90 season in league history, and the additions of Aron Baynes and Ricky Rubio have outperformed even the loftiest of expectations.
These aren’t the Suns of the last half-decade, and a victory will require some attention to detail. Just because this fixture is in Mexico City doesn’t mean the Spurs should treat it as a vacation.
Dec 16: San Antonio Spurs @ Houston Rockets
We already went through this drill earlier, but why not explore it again?
James Harden and Russell Westbrook are former MVPs leading an especially potent offense. The Spurs need to bring their A-game on defense if they have any hope of an upset in H-Town.
This isn’t an ideal scenario for San Antonio, and I don’t expect the Toyota Center to be a particularly welcoming audience for their I-35 adversary.
Dec 19: San Antonio Spurs vs. Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn stumbled out of the gates, but have recovered to win six of their last eight games. And while they’ve picked up some momentum, they’re still a middle of the road team in most categories.
Spencer Dinwiddie won Eastern Conference Player of the Week in Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert’s absence, and the two injured Nets are set to rejoin the lineup by the time they travel to the Alamo City.
Dec 21: San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Kawhi Leonard is 0-2 against the Spurs when playing in San Antonio, and the good guys looked especially driven when he came to town Friday night.
Such a small sample size means nothing, but the Silver and Black always get up for a game that involves the two-time Defensive Player of the Year.
Brace yourself for another dramatic NBA homecoming for the Board Man. These matchups are always close regardless of the outcome.
Dec 23: San Antonio Spurs @ Memphis Grizzlies
The Spurs embarrassed themselves on Tony Parker Night last time these two teams met up. So, it’d be fair to presume San Antonio is looking to avenge their loss this go-round.
Jonas Valanciunas and Jaren Jackson Jr. bullied the bigs, and Dillon Brooks and Brandon Clarke were allowed to run rampant. The Silver and Black have the personnel to avoid a repeat performance, and Pop has adjusted the rotations.
Dec 26: San Antonio Spurs @ Dallas Mavericks
Luka Doncic has established himself as an early MVP candidate, and last year’s Rookie of the Year has the Mavericks operating like a legitimate playoff team.
The Croatian sensation also became the second player in league history to record a 40 point triple-double before their 21st birthday in his previous outing against San Antonio.
Dallas plays little to no defense, and the Spurs house a top ten offense. Doncic can score as much as he wants, but as long as they hold the rest of the Mavs in check, fans might be graced with a belated Christmas present in the form of a divisional triumph.