The San Antonio Spurs’ annual Rodeo road trip -The test before the post-season
Rodeo Road Trip
The Rodeo road trip of the San Antonio Spurs begins on Sunday and is the toughest part of their schedule in every regular season. It consists of 9 or 10 games spread over the span of the three weeks that also includes the All-Star break. Since 2003, the annual San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo at the AT&T Arena leaves the Spurs with no option but to undertake a rather lengthy road trip which also includes the All-Star break.
Looking back at the last 5 seasons, the Spurs have made it to the Conference Finals or NBA Finals whenever they come off this road trip with two losses or lesser. However, last season was an exception as the team was marginally off the 2 loss rule by completing the Rodeo road trip with 6 wins of 9 games.
Nonetheless, the team more than made up for losing more than 2 games on the trip by going on a league best 19 game winning streak immediately after wrapping up the Rodeo trip.
The 2015 Rodeo Road Trip
|February 8th||Sunday||Toronto Raptors|
|February 9th||Monday||Indiana Pacers|
|February 11th||Wednesday||Detroit Pistons|
|February 19th||Thursday||Los Angeles Clippers|
|February 20th||Friday||Golden State Warriors|
|February 23rd||Monday||Utah Jazz|
|February 25th||Wednesday||Portland Traiblazers|
|February 27th||Friday||Sacramento Kings|
|February 28th||Saturday||Phoenix Suns|
The 2015 edition of the Rodeo trip for the Spurs consists of 9 games over a 20-day period. 3 opponents are from the East, while the rest from the West. Five of the nine encounters will be against current Playoff bound teams. Here is the road trip.
Early into their road trip just after facing the Pistons in Detroit, the team will enjoy an eight day period with no games courtesy of the festivities of the All-Star Weekend that are set to take place at the Madison Square Garden in New York. The team should not have any problems against the 3 non-Playoff teams in the Pistons, Pacers and Kings. Even if they finish 3-2 against the Playoff teams during this stretch, they will still finish the road trip with a more than praiseworthy 7-2 performance.
Advantages and impact of the Road trip
Despite the cruelty of the schedule, the Spurs have never finished this road trip with a sub .500 record since its initiation, but this season could be different for more reasons than one. The team enters this season’s trip with a majority of the players on their roster returning from injuries. Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw and Danny Green have been the only players to consistently play in the season so far.
Patty Mills returned from a shoulder injury in late December, Tiago Splitter sat out a major portion during the beginning of the season. Marco Belinelli has only recently become available for games, Tony Parker has sat out 12 games so far and the reigning NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard missed 17 of 20 possible games between December 10th and January 16th.
The team’s projected line-up of Parker, Green, Leonard, Duncan and Splitter have played only once in the first 40 games of the season. Searching for a dependable contributing consistent rotation of players is the need of the hour for San Antonio.
When in full flow, their system is so effective that it could make a mockery of any team that the Spurs are playing against. It was the backbone of their last season’s league best winning streak and their dismantling of the Miami Heat in the most recent NBA Finals.
Year after year the team used this trip as a measuring stick for the post-season, the circumstances have made this year a lot different. Searching for stability and consistency rank higher on the priority list for the Spurs compared to trying to win as many games as they can. Thus, finding a rotation that can raise the level of team play to the highest is what will be at the top of the agenda list for this road trip.
Timing of the road trip couldn’t be better
San Antonio has lost just two games in their last 11 and are starting to gain much needed momentum. The road trip comes at a time when the team is fit and ready to start climbing the Western Conference standings. Currently placed 7th, the Spurs are tied in the lost column with the 5th and 6th seeded Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers respectively.
If the team continues the type of form they are in with the system that they play, watch out for these guys post the All-Star break. Having won 5 championships, Head Coach Gregg Popovich knows the importance of home court during the Playoffs so whatever you do, make sure you do not miss the Spurs during the latter half of the season. If and when the Spurs engine does get back to its form from last year, it would be safe to say that they could end up among the top 3 teams in the West by the end of the regular season.