Spurs 2018-19 Schedule: Top Games, Championship Odds and Record Predictions

San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) and head coach Gregg Popovich during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, March 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Head coach Gregg Popovich remains on the San Antonio Spurs sideline, but the other cornerstones of the franchise’s most recent championship in 2014 continue to fade away.

The Spurs traded superstar forward Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors after a tumultuous 2017-18 campaign that saw him appear in just nine games. Meanwhile, longtime point guard Tony Parker opted to sign with the Charlotte Hornets over the summer after his role was reduced last season.

Manu Ginobili is still on the roster, but he’s no longer the high-impact player he was during his prime and may soon join Tim Duncan in retirement.

So it’s a new era of Spurs basketball led by DeMar DeRozan, who was acquired from the Raptors in the blockbuster Leonard deal, LaMarcus Aldridge and Dejounte Murray.

Let’s check out all of the important information about the Spurs’ upcoming campaign following the NBA‘s schedule release. That’s followed by a preview of some key matchups and a record prediction.

                   

Spurs 2018-19 Schedule Details

Season Opener: Oct. 17 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

Championship Odds: 66-1 (via OddsShark)

Full Schedule: NBA.com

                

Top Matchups

Golden State Warriors (First Game: Nov. 18)

The road to an NBA championship runs through the back-to-back champion Warriors.

San Antonio has learned that the hard way over the last two seasons. The Dubs eliminated the Spurs from the playoffs in the 2017 Western Conference Finals and the first round of the 2018 playoffs. Popovich’s group won a single game in those two series combined.

The Spurs aren’t expected to keep pace with Golden State in the standings this year. Head-to-head meetings between the sides will be a solid litmus test for exactly where they stand, though. It’s the same challenge every other West hopeful will face throughout the season.

Winning at least a couple of the matchups during the regular season could help give San Antonio some added confidence if the sides happen to meet again in the postseason.

              

Toronto Raptors (First Game in San Antonio: Jan. 3)

The Spurs and Raptors will be linked throughout the 2017-18 season because of the trade headlined by Leonard and DeRozan.

Both teams hope the deal will provide a boost. San Antonio wants to remain competitive in the loaded West, and Toronto should push toward a potential NBA Finals appearance in the weaker East with LeBron James departing the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Of course, there are secondary storylines, led by what type of reception Leonard will receive when he returns to San Antonio.

He enjoyed a lot of success with the team, including winning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award twice as well as being named the 2017 NBA Finals MVP. But his exit featured a lot of friction, which could have rubbed the fanbase the wrong way.

So his return to River City will draw a lot of attention.

             

Season Prediction

The Spurs are coming off a 47-35 season. It marked the first time since the 1998-99 campaign they failed to reach 50 wins. They were 37-13 that year, which was shortened by a lockout, and went on to win their first championship.

It’s an outstanding run of success that has made San Antonio one of the model franchises in all sports, and it should be on the fringe of 50 victories again during the upcoming campaign.

Along with Parker’s exit, Danny Green was sent to the Raptors as part of the Leonard deal and Kyle Anderson signed with the Memphis Grizzlies as a restricted free agent.

In turn, the Spurs signed Marco Belinelli and Dante Cunningham in free agency and also received Jakob Poeltl in their deal with Toronto.

All those moves will likely be a wash, and a full season of DeRozan should provide significantly more value than the nine games they got out of Leonard last year.

While that would seem to suggest the Spurs will compile a better record, it’s important to remember the West features no shortage of competition. The Warriors and Houston Rockets will likely pace the conference again, with the Lakers now a treat following the arrival of James.

The end result for the Spurs will probably be a record similar to the mark they posted last season and a postseason berth in the bottom portion of the West playoffs.

Record Projection: 45-37

NBA News

via Bleacher Report – NBA https://ift.tt/2gMI6gF

August 10, 2018 at 01:33PM

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