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The Rodeo Road Trip could doom the Spurs’ playoff chances

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The Spurs need wins to keep up with the other West playoff hopefuls, but their struggles on the road might prevent them from getting them anytime soon.

NBA: Washington Wizards at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs lost the first two games of the Rodeo Road Trip and are now 8-16 away from the AT&T Center this season. They are currently three games back from the eighth spot in the West and have six more road games ahead.

Will the RRT determine whether the Spurs stay in the playoff hunt? How many of the next six road games do you think they can realistically win and how many do you think they have to win to keep up?

Marilyn Dubinski: I think It’s reasonable to expect them to go 2-4 the rest of the way. They should beat the Kings, and I could see them snagging one of the two match-ups with the Thunder, but the Spurs remain a hard-to-predict bunch. Although they lost the first two games in Los Angeles, they have been better against the higher competition lately, so wins at Portland, Denver and Utah are not out of the question. As for the consequences of the RRT, it has much a bigger chance of hurting them than helping. We’ve been saying basically all season that “one little run” is what they needed to get ahead of the pack, but they just haven’t been able to do it, and now the Grizzles and Trail Blazers are surging ahead. I would say at the bare minimum they need to be a .500 team to make the playoffs, which assuming they go the predicted 2-4 for the rest of the RRT would mean they would need to go 17-9 after that. Not impossible with the remaining schedule, but not something this team seems capable of at this point.

Mark Barrington: The remaining games in the RRT are Blazers, Kings, Nuggets, Thunder, Jazz, and Thunder redux. The Blazers have been excellent lately and are motivated to beat the Spurs to chase that last playoff spot. The only winnable games in that stretch are the Kings (which is not a guaranteed victory, since the Spurs always play poorly against bad teams) and possibly the Thunder. I feel like I’m being optimistic in thinking that the Spurs should beat the Kings and win one of the Thunder match-ups. Then they have a 24-32 record and need to go 17-9 for the rest of the season to end up at .500. I don’t think this team is capable of that. I reckon the playoff streak is done. If they do somehow make it into the playoffs, they’d likely meet the Lakers, who crushed them on Tuesday. I’d rather enjoy watching the Spurs develop young players for the rest of the season instead of seeing them get swept by LeBron and the Lakers. Let Lonnie play, and give Keldon and Luka some time to shine.

Bruno Passos: That feels fair, especially if you’re not high on their chances the rest of the way against some very stiff competition. If you think they have 1 or 2 wins in them for the RRT, then that probably sets them far back enough to not see a credible path back to the 8 seed. Going 2-4 the rest of the way would leave them at 24-32 on the season, requiring them to finish 16-10 to end the year at 40 wins, which may end up being the bar for the 8th seed. Weirder things have happened than them finding a way to eke out more wins, but the Spurs really put themselves in a bind by not securing more wins in the lead-up to the road trip.

Jesus Gomez: They should be able to beat the Kings and maybe take one against the Thunder. I’d even give them a chance against the Jazz, since they seem to match up well against them. The problem is that even if they go 3-3, which would be a huge surprise considering how bad they have been on the road all season, the Spurs would still be firmly under .500. The Grizzlies currently have the same amount of wins and losses, and the Trail Blazers, which are surging and should get Jusuf Nurkic and eventually Zach Collins back, would both have to collapse while San Antonio plays like a borderline contender for the playoff streak to stay alive. It’s not looking good at all, unless the Spurs can somehow start stringing together wins, which could be hard in this stretch of the schedule.

J.R. Wilco: I can’t tell whether this question is too pessimistic —playoffs doomed!— or overly optimistic —so we’re working from the assumption that San Antonio still has postseason chances?— and I’m not sure it matters. With 26 games to play after the RRT (if they finish their road trip they way they’ve started it) to realistically qualify for the playoffs the Spurs would have to play six to seven games over .500 down the stretch. And that’s in a season when they haven’t been able accomplish that for even TEN games. I think it’s safe to say that we know who the Spurs are at this point, and to expect them to suddenly morph into a team that wins over 65% of its games through March and April is a bridge quite a bit too far.

But what a story it would be.