Spurs face toughest task yet in going for win 20
Tonight just might be the night the streak ends. In case you missed it, the San Antonio Spurs win streak is now at 19 after a drubbing of the short-handed Golden State Warriors. That’s right, the San Antonio Spurs are undefeated in April too, but all that might end tonight.
The San Antonio Spurs head into Oklahoma City to take on a Thunder team that hasn’t played since Sunday. Not only are the Spurs playing for the second night in a row, but it’s their fifth game in seven nights. I don’t have a spy at the airport, so I couldn’t say for sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili didn’t even board the team plane. This has all the makings of a classic schedule loss.
[UPDATE: Manu (rest), Austin Daye (lat strain), Aron Baynes (fractured rib) and Matt Bonner (calf) are all out against the Thunder on Thursday night.]
But it might not be. Tim Duncan played just 20 minutes against the Warriors, Manu Ginobili just 19 and Tony Parker played 28. Aside from a surprisingly close game last Wednesday against Denver, the last stretch of contests haven’t been the most taxing. In fact, San Antonio had just three games in March where they won by less than 10 points and one of those games was without both Duncan and Ginobili. The Spurs also have an extra day off before facing Memphis on Sunday. It’s not ridiculous to say the team is less tired than your normal five-games-in-seven-nights stretch.
Additionally, Oklahoma City is a little banged up at the moment. Reggie Jackson is expected back after a two game layoff from a mild back sprain. Thabo Sefalosha and Kendrick Perkins are both out. Scott Brooks also has been sitting Russell Westbrook on the first night of back-to-backs (Thunder play Houston Friday night), but his status for the game hasn’t been announced. There’s also a practical approach to going full squad tonight. The Spurs currently have a four game lead over Oklahoma City and could practically put the number one overall record in the league on lock down with a win.
However, the Spurs have never pretended to care about that and even with the loss they’d still have a nice cushion heading down the stretch. According to ESPN’s playoff odds, San Antonio has a 97.8 percent chance of getting the 1-seed. I’m guessing those odds don’t go down too much if they lose tonight. Also important to take into account: the Spurs are just coming out of the tough stretch of their schedule while the Thunder are entering it.
Oklahoma City plays the Spurs, Rockets and Phoenix Suns over the next four nights. Then they travel to Sacramento and then take on the Los Angeles Clippers the following night. That’s five games in seven nights, four of which are on the road. They also don’t have more than a day off in between games between now and the end of the season. Meanwhile, San Antonio has two less games remaining and only one more back-to-back in the mix.
The Spurs are going to be fine win or lose. It’d be cool if they won, but I’m not banking on it. Keep an eye on the 48 Minutes of Hell twitter account this afternoon for news on who is playing and who isn’t.
Tip-off from Oklahoma City is set for 7 p.m. and is on TNT. For Spurs fans in the Oklahoma City area, visit our friends at TiqIQ for tickets to tonight’s game.