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What to expect from the Spurs’ next 10 games

What the New Year, and games 31-40, will mean for San Antonio.

NBA: Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

As you can probably tell, I haven’t gotten this whole 10 game prediction business down to an exact science. Nevertheless, San Antonio has played 30 games, and I have correctly guessed the outcomes at a 7% better rate than the Spurs have won said games (40%). Yikes.

To be fair, the Silver and Black have been all over the place on both sides of the ball, which has made picking outcomes near hopeless this season. To be fair to Pop and company, we’re barely a third of the way into the season, and there’s still plenty of time to steady the ship.

The Spurs are simultaneously a top 10 offense (in points per game) and a bottom ten defense, a predicament that has put them at a self-imposed standstill of sorts. It’s achingly difficult to make progress when you regularly impede your own improvement.

The young core of Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Jakob Poeltl, and Lonnie Walker IV continues to be placed on the backburner for aging veterans, and the combination of LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan has struggled to carry San Antonio.

In spite of their shortcomings, the good guys remain just one game out of the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference playoff picture. Ironically, their fortuitous position is largely thanks to the offensive resurrection of long-time backup point guard Patty Mills.

We’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. So which version of the Spurs might we see over the next 10 games?

Dec. 28: San Antonio Spurs vs. Detroit Pistons

For the sake of our collective basketball sanity, let’s hope the Spurs don’t have a repeat performance when the Pistons come to town for round two. The good guys lost by 34 points last time they met Detroit, but this rendition of Motown’s roster is critically battered.

Markieff Morris and Khyri Thomas are out with foot injuries, Jordan Bone and Luke Kennard are out with knee injuries, Reggie Jackson is out with a back injury, and Andre Drummond is day-to-day with a left calf contusion. This team is far from full strength, and they’ve lost five of their last six outings.

Blake Griffin is always a threat to go off any night of the week, and Christian Wood set a new career-high against the Silver and Black to kick off December. Although I expect a victory, we can’t count any team out when they take on San Antonio.

Verdict: Win

Dec 31: San Antonio Spurs vs. Golden State Warriors

Golden State is one of the worst teams in the league by nearly every metric, and their 8-24 record backs up the numbers loud and clear. San Antonio took advantage of the shorthanded Warriors back in November, and they should do so again when they play host to the lottery-bound squad on New Year’s Eve.

The Spurs are still in the thick of the Western Conference Playoff race, but things could go south in a hurry if they can’t seal the deal in winnable games. If San Antonio takes this matchup seriously, they’ll take care of business at home.

Verdict Win

Jan 2: San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Who could have guessed the openly rebuilding Thunder would be above .500 at this point? I did not see this kind of production coming from a ragtag bunch thrown together at the end of the summer.

Although Oklahoma City lost Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Jerami Grant in one offseason, their replacements have soared above expectations. Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have formed a solid three-man attack, and Dennis Schröder is once again a legitimate Sixth Man of the Year candidate.

Our neighbors to the north stayed in striking distance throughout San Antonio’s 121-112 victory last go-round. They also knocked off the Jazz and Clippers this December, so they can’t be overlooked.

Verdict Win

Jan 4: San Antonio Spurs @ Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks are the top-scoring, rebounding, and shooting team in the NBA, and the reigning MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, calls the Fiserv Forum home. As for the Spurs, let’s just say you won’t be finding their name on any encouraging leaderboards.

Milwaukee went on an 18 game winning steak earlier in the year, and San Antonio is on pace to reach their 18th win by the 45th game of the season. These two aren’t in the same echelon, and I fully anticipate to “Fear the Dear” by the end of the night.

Verdict Loss

Jan 6: San Antonio purs vs. Milwaukee Bucks

There’s not a whole lot that can be said about the Bucks that I didn’t already mention in the paragraph above. Milwaukee is a serious title contender lead by a complete freak of nature.

The Silver and Black will get a shot to pull off an upset on their home floor, but a day of rest and a long flight back from Wisconsin doesn’t bode well for their chances. You can never pencil in an outcome in professional sports, but I’m confident in Mike Budenholzer’s well-oiled machine.

Verdict: Loss

Jan 8: San Antonio Spurs @ Boston Celtics

Boston blew out San Antonio on the road in early November, and they’re 15-6 since their first meeting of the season. The Celtics hold the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, and the Spurs haven’t shown much to suggest they’ll secure a 23rd straight playoff appearance.

Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have combined for 45.5 points per game over their last 10 games, and the pair of budding superstars dropped a 30 piece on the Cavs this Friday. Facing the Celts after back-to-back contests with the Bucks is borderline cruel.

Verdict: Loss

Jan 10: San Antonio Spurs @ Memphis Grizzlies

San Antonio’s 30 point shellacking of Ja Morant and the Grizzlies should be fresh in our minds. It was virtually drama-free, and the closest thing to perfect execution we’ve seen from them all season long.

Their 145 points were the third-most points scored during the Gregg Popovich era, and their 67.4% field goal percentage was the best shooting display by any team in a single game during Pop’s 24-year tenure.

Will the Silver and Black replicate their impossibly precise success from the field? Probably not, but they should be capable of handling Memphis away from the comfort of the AT&T Center.

Verdict: Win

Jan 12: San Antonio Spurs @ Toronto Raptors

The Raptors may be banged up as you read this, but count on them entering this matchup with their full rotation available for action. Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol, and Norman Powell are sidelined at the moment, but they’re slated to make their return by the time the Spurs land in Canada.

Toronto lays claim to one of the most fearsome defenses in the NBA, and they hold their opponents to the second-worst field goal percentage in the league. San Antonio won’t be able to rely on their high-powered, yet unreliable offense to capture this dub.

Their defense must travel north of the border, and I’m not willing to make that assumption. The Spurs have been spotty on that end regardless of location.

Verdict: Loss

Jan 15: San Antonio Spurs @ Miami Heat

Both Miami and San Antonio won a title in the past decade, watched generational talent exit the door, and restocked with promising prospects. That’s where the similarities end.

In many ways, the Heat are the anti-Spurs of the NBA. They shoot more threes, play more D, and head coach Erik Spoelstra has thoroughly embraced the youth movement.

Jimmy Butler is the star of the show in South Beach, but Bam Adebayo, Kendrick Nunn, Tyler Herro, Justise Winslow, and Duncan Robinson are quite the supporting cast. This is a must-watch hoop troop, even if they cause major headaches for Pop and crew.

Verdict: Loss

Jan 17: San Antonio Spurs vs. Atlanta Hawks

Trae Young and the undermanned Hawks handed San Antonio a loss in their previous fixture, and the Spurs will look to rectify their early-season loss.

Despite regaining John Collins, Atlanta has been outscored by 29 points since the big man returned to the lineup. Head coach Lloyd Pierce will have 9 games to learn how to reintegrate his star forward back into the gameplan before the two teams meet.

Though the Silver and Black weren’t focused when they visited State Farm Arena, they’ll have to luxury of playing in front of a friendly crowd. Fans likely expect a win versus the league-worst Hawks, and Spurs should presumably deliver.

Verdict: Win

Record: 5-5