It’s over! I’m calling it now – the New Orleans Pelicans are no longer the thorn in the Spurs’ side that they’ve been in the past. After costing the Spurs the #2 seed in the 2015 playoffs and robbing Manu Ginobili of a testicle this February, San Antonio has finally exorcised their demons from the Big Easy.
Truth be told, I probably could have made this proclamation after the Spurs went 3-1 against New Orleans last season, but that team was so busted up the Austin Spurs probably could’ve given them a run for their money. Making the announcement after the Pelicans were trounced on Tim Duncan night just feels better.
But what’s a good San Antonio team without a penchant for losing to a loser? We’ve seen them struggle against the Grizzlies in the early 10’s. Portland always seems to be a problem. Hell, even Houston beat the Spurs in all four regular season games during the 2013-14 championship season.
So which other mediocre team seems to rise to the occasion every time they draw a matchup against the Spurs? Which team, guaranteed to lose their first round playoff series – probably in a sweep – is going to give San Antonio fits for the foreseeable future?
Which team is going to cause you to gulp and heavily sigh when you notice the Spurs play them on the second night of a back-to-back?
Off the top of my head, I came up with five options.
Unfortunately, this list can only contain bad teams, which automatically eliminates Houston and Utah.
Then I looked up the Spurs head-to-head record vs. Washington and learned that the Wizards have only beaten San Antonio twice in the last 11 seasons so… that’s got to be a no.
How about Portland, then?
The Spurs hold an 80-79 advantage in all-time head-to-head regular season match-ups against the Blazers, and a 6-5 advantage since the start of the 2013 season. Obviously, the Blazers haven’t been bad that entire stretch. They won 51 games in 2014-15 and 54 games in 2013-14.
But now? Portland isn’t so great, and although they haven’t played San Antonio yet this year, it’s hard to see them beating the Spurs playing their brand of matador defense.
That leaves us with Chicago.
The Spurs have split the season series with Chicago the last three seasons, despite San Antonio being the superior team on paper each time.
Chicago also finds itself in the enviable position of playing the Spurs on Christmas Day this year, a game that San Antonio historically loses.
Chicago has also seemingly figured out how to render Kawhi Leonard useless on defense – a big problem, considering that Danny Green is the only starter who plays lockdown defense. So Green will draw Wade and that’s fine, it shouldn’t be a problem for him. I’m not even that worried about Tony Parker on Rajon Rondo.
But Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic, and Robin Lopez against LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, and Dewayne Dedmon? That’s what keeps me up at night. The Spurs’ bigs have played some inspired (or better than average) defense lately, they’ve only had to go against one truly special big man – Anthony Davis – during their 4-game winning streak.
This holiday season, feel free to join me in what’s sure to be a wonderful new Christmas tradition – screaming profanities at the likes of Doug McDermott while the Spurs throw away a totally winable home game on national TV. Hey, at least we don’t play the Bulls four times a year!