In the condensed NBA season this year due to the lockout, or work stoppage, many teams are forced to play a number of games, in as many of nights. The exhaustion shows this early in the season, as the Spurs have lost all the games where they traveled the night after had a game, first a loss to Houston after a prominent beating of the Clippers in San Antonio.
An hour flight from San Antonio to Houston, but nearly not enough to fully rest, throwing their rest rituals out of whack. In the game versus Houston, the Spurs looked like a shadow of themselves as the Rockets made quick work of the Spurs.
The following consecutive game night was a home stand against the Golden State Warriors and the Dallas Mavericks, winning both games and winning them rather easily, the thought sprung into my head that this would be a litmus test for the team as they had their first consecutive night home stand.
The game versus Golden State had the Warriors fly in after a loss in Phoenix two days earlier, not having to face the Spurs on consecutive nights, so they came in with rather fresh legs and as well rested as they could have been, but the Mavericks, however, came in to San Antonio fresh from a win versus those same Phoenix Suns on their home-court in the American Airlines Arena.
The Mavericks came in worn out and tired off of a flight from Dallas, and lacked the necessary rest to play a team who had a well night’s rest after a win in San Antonio, Dallas, who looked defeated from tip-off, hardly put up a challenge against the Spurs, only scoring 29 in the ENTIRE FIRST HALF, the Spurs scored 31 in the First quarter alone! So, the test can be invalidated due to facing a weak opponent on the second night, but nothing should be taken away from the Spurs in that game.
Now, on to Oklahoma City, the Spurs kept up with the Thunder for majority of the game, but could not overcome the strong Thunder team; off of a flight to Oklahoma City, the Spurs fresh, or stale if you’d prefer, off of a win versus the Denver Nuggets at home, fatigue showed late in the second half of the game as the Nuggets nearly staged a comeback, dwindling what was what a 20 point lead down to two late in the fourth quarter. A high scoring game it was for the Spurs as they held off the Nuggets 121-117, with seven players in double figures scoring wise, the Spurs beat their season high 115 that they hung on the Los Angeles Clippers. An amazing team effort against the Nuggets to say the very least.
Against Oklahoma City, San Antonio had five players in double digits, lead by Gary Neal with 18, but simply could not hang with the high-octane Thunder on such short rest, nor could they defend them, allowing six Thunder players to attain at least 10, led by their big man, Kevin Durant who put up 21 on the Spurs defense, followed closely by James Harden who also put up 20 points.
Tired Spurs are not the best Spurs, so as we’ve learned from these losses, it’s a very winnable game, not all is lost when traveling on back to back nights, the entire Spurs line-up have to contribute to the win, it was a slow night for many of the Spurs, but as the season goes on, it’s only going to get tougher, with tougher times, comes adaptation. It’s time the Spurs learn to deal with the fatigue, because these games are essential, and could hold dire importance later in the season, the Spurs have time to work out the kinks of traveling, and get a rhythm for later in the season. There is no need to hit the panic button; keep calm and carry on, San Antonio.
– Richard Perez