The schedule is out. What’s your prediction for the Spurs’ record after the first 10 games?
Marilyn Dubinski: None of those games are surefire wins, and considering we just don’t know what the Spurs team will look like, it’s tough to predict. I’d say the home opener against the Hornets is a win, the next game in Indiana is winnable, and maybe they steal one of the three against the Timberwolves because they’ll still be figuring things out with Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert (plus it’s just hard to beat the same team three times in four games). My prediction is 3-7, but they could snag another in there, like at home against the Raptors.
Mark Barrington: It looks like 2-8 to me. With no go-to guy on the roster, and tons of new additions and young players with new responsibilities, this team is really going to struggle out of the gate, especially against the tough opponents they will face in the first ten games. It’s a little nuts that the Spurs face the Timberwolves 3 times in the first 7 games, but maybe that gives the Spurs a chance to steal a win in the third match-up after lulling them to sleep by not being able to score points in the first two. My other projected win is against the Hornets in the opener, which could mean that the Spurs will be over .500 for a total of 2 days this season.
Bruno Passos: The combination of a lack of high-end talent and needing to figure out a new Dejounte-less way of operating offensively doesn’t bode well for a strong start. Add in a tough schedule (barring that home opener against the Hornets, which still feels closer to a toss-up) and I don’t feel comfortable projecting more than a couple of gutsy wins. I’ll say 2-8 without having any certainty for where that pair of Ws will come from.
Jesus Gomez: It’s a brutal start. The Hornets have a huge advantage at point guard so the Spurs might drop the home opener, and after that, they have four away games before playing a bunch of really good opponents at home. I think 0-10 is a real possibility. I’ll go with 2-8 with the wins likely coming against the Pacers and the Raptors but I’d love to see the Spurs win the first two, because the overreactions it could cause would simply be too funny.
J.R. Wilco: First things first: I sure hope I’m wrong about this season. Practically nothing would please me more than to find that I have metric tons of crow to eat concerning my gross underappreciation of the Spurs chances. I’ve recently gotten serious about cooking (thank you, Joshua Weissman) so I’m ready to try my hand at Crow Pad Thai, Crow Tikki Masala, and Crow Pho (minus the star anise, which I can’t abide). That said, I figure San Antonio to win something in the neighborhood of 25% of their games, so 2-8 or 3-7 sounds about right as you never know when the team will light it up from downtown and make the efficacy of their developing defense irrelevant.
Dejounte Murray will return to San Antonio on March 19. How do you think he will be received by the home crowd?
Dubinski: I think he will be received well. It’s not like he forced his way out like Kawhi Leonard (who is probably the only notable former player to receive a poor welcome from Spurs fans), and Spurs fans who know Murray well should also know to take his social media activity (and mouth, for that matter) with a grain of salt. If he was returning early in the season, fans might be a little more weary of his mixed messages about the Spurs during the offseason and Drew League/social media shenanigans, but even then I don’t see a world where he’s received poorly. Worst case, his round of applause is “less loud” than Derrick White’s.
Barrington: I think he will be cheered. A few people who are super plugged into social media will hold some of Dejounte’s recent posts against him, but the majority of fans don’t care about that. They care about Murray’s hard play and leadership while he was on the team, and his return will be a celebration of that legacy.
Passos: Murray’s been on something of a rampage since the trade to Atlanta, mixing it up in pro-ams with randos and Paolo Banchero and seemingly throwing a few jabs back at his former team on Instagram. Unless that behavior escalates into more pointed shade towards the Spurs or provokes some kind of international incident (no guarantee on either), I suspect only the most online of the fanbase will harbor any resentment. He was a widely enjoyed figure since being drafted and has given the city enough to where I hope and expect he’ll be warmly received.
Gomez: The fact that his return will happen so late in the season is what makes this an interesting question. On the one hand, it should provide fans with enough time to forget about the unpleasant comments Murray made over the summer. On the other, it also gives Dejounte enough time to say something even worse that will anger the people who didn’t mind the things he has said so far. Ultimately I think that if both his season and the Spurs’ are going as planned by the time he returns, with him doing well in Atlanta and San Antonio on its way to securing a high draft pick, Murray will only say nice things about his time with the Silver and Black in the leadup to the matchup and the crowd will receive him warmly.
Wilco: North of ambivalently, but this side of ecstatically. Murray was a good player. For us, he was great (and our best) for a while. But overall he was good. He developed far beyond what I thought he was capable of and became an above-average NBA talent that hasn’t done or said anything for which he should be shunned. So I expect the team to produce one of their classy videos commemorating his time in San Antonio, and I expect the crowd to welcome him with a round of applause that ranks beyond appreciative but shy of stirring.
If you could get front-row tickets to any one game next season, which one would you pick?
Dubinski: I’ve never been a person who has desired front-row seats. I don’t care to get crashed into, plus I’ve done second-row seats before, and the poor depth perception just doesn’t make for an exciting viewing experience for me. That being said, I want a potentially winning experience combined with a reward for traveling to San Antonio from Houston, so what better game than Feb. 1 against the Sacramento Kings, which also happens to be “2005 Championship Night”, which will include a Manu Ginobili Bobblehead? I need one for my desk at work here in HTown (although it would be even better if James Harden was still liked here).
Barrington: New Year’s Eve against the Mavericks. It’d be a great start for a night of partying, and I’d get to see Luka Doncic, who is one of my favorite non-Spurs players, close up. I’d meet up and party the rest of the night away with my San Antonio friends after the game and celebrate the end of 2022 and the beginning of a new era for the Spurs.
Passos: Give me November 9th versus the Grizzlies. Ja Morant is the best showman in the NBA right now and the kind of athlete I’d want to be as close as possible to given he could try to dunk on or pirouette around an opponent at any given moment. Throw in some Steven Adams banter and the fact that the Grizzlies may be the brashest trash talkers in the league which would make it fun, for me at least, to pick up on all the sound bytes that TV productions can’t (or willingly choose not to) catch.
Gomez: Opening night against the Hornets. The Spurs should at least have a chance to win, which is always nice, and it would be great to be there for the official start of a new era. Everything will feel fresh early in the season, too, and it would be easy to focus only on the good. A home game against the Suns would be fun as well, as it would give me the opportunity to hate Chris Paul from up close after years of doing it from thousands of miles away, but if I have to pick only one, I’m going with opening night.
Wilco: I’d like to defer my front row seats to the second half of the season, and pick whichever visiting team is playing basketball that most closely resembles the last 2 minutes of this video. I just love watching the beautiful game played beautifully, and I’m looking forward to the day I can see it played that way again by the guys in the Silver and Black.