We interrupt the college basketball postseason to bring you a brief update on the upcoming forecast in San Antonio. It is, in a word, treacherous.
That’s right, the surprising and resilient Spurs begin a difficult ten game stretch tonight against the New York Knicks in which they’ll battle eight potential playoff participants over an 18 day span. Let’s look at each of those ten games with a simple sentence (or two).
3/7 Knicks – Coming off a two day break after a disappointing loss to the shorthanded Denver Nuggets should give the Spurs an edge over the Knicks, who are still searching for an identity with Carmelo Anthony back in the lineup. The Spurs would set off panic if they were to drop three of four at home.
3/9 Clippers – The Spurs pulled off a miracle last month and defeated the Clippers in an overtime thriller in Los Angeles. The Clippers are struggling of late, so it’s a good time to welcome Chris Paul and his high-flying cohorts to Texas.
3/12 Bullets Wizards – I’d prefer to avoid the ramifications of a loss here.
3/14 Magic – Welcoming Orlando to the AT&T Center the day before the trade deadline should be interesting. Hopefully, the Magic will be completely distracted by trade rumors and the swarm of media following the team. Orlando just lost to Charlotte, so it’s safe to assume they’re not the most focused bunch.
3/16 @Thunder – It’s not a must-win, but the Spurs need to prove they can compete with the young, athletic Thunder. Danny Green should be a busy man on this night.
3/17 @Mavericks – The Spurs first back-to-back in nearly a month couldn’t be any more difficult. It’s only March, but expect this one to have playoff intensity. (Assuming of course, Gregg Popovich doesn’t sit his star players.)
3/21 Timberwolves – If the Spurs keeping winning and remain the West’s second seed, the Timberwolves could very well be San Antonio’s first round opponent. Minnesota is difficult to defend in the paint, something the Spurs struggled to overcome in last year’s playoffs against Memphis.
3/23 Mavericks – If you’re new here, these teams don’t really like each other. Two meetings in a week’s time will only increase the animosity.
3/24 @Hornets – In the tightly contested Western Conference, these are the games you can’t let slip away. Since this is the middle of a back-to-back-to-back, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Tim Duncan in street clothes.
3/25 76ers – The schedule softens up after the defensive-minded 76ers visit. In theory, the Spurs should take advantage of Philadelphia’s lack of frontcourt depth. In theory.
Ten games. Eight menacing opponents. In all likelihood, the Spurs will need at least a 6-4 record over that span in order to maintain their current standing in the Western Conference. Even more important, San Antonio must remain healthy. And if Manu Ginobili works himself into midseason form along the way; that would be great, too.