The San Antonio Spurs have taken over the top spot in the Western Conference, a spot that many figured they would not be in with a core unit that is older than almost every other team. A win over the pathetic New Orleans Hornets, coupled with an Oklahoma City Thunder loss to the Indiana Pacers have put the Spurs in the drivers seat with thirteen games to play.
The Spurs have also won 10 games or more in a row for the second time this season, and that number could continue to grow. The Spurs are just percentage points ahead of the Thunder, who have dropped three straight close games. With the Spurs in the driver seat this late in the season, many are wondering if they can earn the number one seed for a second season in a row.
I highly doubt it.
Comparing both the Thunder’s schedule and the Spurs’, San Antonio has four back-to-back games, and a back-to-back-to-back death trap. Meanwhile, the Thunder have only three back-to-back games, and play just about every other day. The Spurs also face the Los Angeles Lakers three times in their final thirteen. The Thunder face the much less heralded Sacramento Kings three times.
Head coach Gregg Popovich will make sure his three stars, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker see plenty of the action court side with the playoffs just around the corner. That means bench players like Tiago Splitter, Daniel Green, Boris Diaw, Patty Mills, Gary Neal, and others will get plenty of on court action.
The Spurs may have won ten games in a row, but do not expect that streak to last too much longer. I think the Spurs will finish second in the Western Conference, and who knows who their opponent will be in the first round of the playoffs. There currently is a log jam at the bottom with a plethora of teams within a handful of games that could easily be made up during the final few weeks of the season.
Follow Paul Troupe on Twitter @gamin4HIM