The Spurs will not return to the court until Wednesday, Feb 24 after having a COVID outbreak in the team.
While the circumstances that caused it are obviously negative, the forced hiatus came in the middle of a lengthy road trip and provided DeMar DeRozan with an opportunity to mourn the passing of his father without missing many games. On the other hand, the Spurs had won five of their last six and were starting to gel after the return of Derrick White.
Have the Spurs benefited from their hiatus or will it actually hurt them to miss 10 days of action in the middle of the season?
Marilyn Dubinski: Even when sticking to the purely basketball aspect of it, there’s certainly nothing ideal about missing any games considering they were getting on a roll, and odd as it is to say after the way the last few seasons have gone, the Rodeo Road Trip presented them with a prime opportunity to get on an extended winning streak of more than three games for the first time in two seasons, considering the favorable schedule and their penchant for winning on the road this season.
If there is possibly any positive side, it’s the rest and recuperation it provides the players, but at the same time, they will only have five games before the All Star break, so it’s not like relief wasn’t on the way. The good news is so far the hiatus hasn’t hurt them in the standings, with teams behind them failing to take advantage, but they will need to fight while shorthanded and get some of these games back later if they want to stay in the fight for the 4th/5th seeds for the most ideal first round matchup.
Mark Barrington: I think there are too many games in the NBA in too short of a period, so it’s virtually impossible to hurt a team by playing fewer games. But in this case, where they aren’t able to practice or even do conditioning work, there’s bound to be some negative impact on the quality of play. But then again, I remember the January 30th game against the Grizzlies, were the Grizzlies on 12 days rest routed the Spurs on a SEGABABA by 17 points.
If the Spurs can use the respite to regain their energy, then it will be great, but there will be only 5 games left (or fewer, if more games are postponed) before the All Star break, so whatever rest advantage they gain will be short-lived. I suspect the immediate effect will be a net neutral or a slight advantage, but there will be a huge negative impact later in the season when they have to make up the missed games.
Bruno Passos: It’s a weird season and there is some value to rest wherever you can get it— maybe someone was playing through a nagging injury and will benefit from the time off. While it’s mostly impossible to reconcile all the dynamics affecting a team at any given time, I’ll say this extended hiatus isn’t helping them.
The Spurs had won 5 of their last 6 and had a handful of winnable games queued up. If you believe in momentum or grooves, then you might think they were going to be able to ride that through games versus Detroit, Cleveland and New York. Add on the human aspect of additional quarantining and the uncertainty of how or if they’ll be making these games up in the back half of the schedule (Will they play even more back-to-backs to make it work? Will they have the standings disadvantage of playing fewer games, like they did going into last year’s play-in games?) and I don’t see how they competitively come out ahead with all of this.
Jesus Gomez: The stoppage coming in the middle of such a long trip can be considered positive, but once you factor in the reason why it happened, the benefits were surely reduced. Beyond some rest that the team probably didn’t need that badly considering the age and minutes load of the more important players, the biggest advantage it could give the Spurs is that they won’t have to play as many games without LaMarcus Aldridge. But is that good? The team has been thriving without the veteran big man.
In any case, what happened, happened. Now the hope is that the players affected will be fine soon, and the team will return with renewed energy to complete the short stretch before the All-Star break before taking on the second half of the season with no interruptions. If this is the extent of the COVID-related adversity the Spurs will face this season, they should be fine.
J.R. Wilco: While I’m disappointed that the team couldn’t pile up the wins in an RRT that looked like it was scheduled for the express purpose of giving them their longest winning streak in three seasons, I don’t think the hiatus will hurt them in the long run.
Good teams find a way to make bad situations work for them, and poor teams suffer regardless of how many opportunities they get. And as far as I can tell, this year’s Spurs squad is a good team (not great yet, but I’ll take what I can get) so I expect them to be able to squeeze some benefit out of their time off.