Back in the day at PtR, I used to do a month-by-month schedule break down. After looking at this year’s schedule, I think the same treatment is in order. I’ve also added a new wrinkle this year in order to put some numbers on how hard and/or easy a certain month is.
Grouping Of Teams
I put teams into four groups: Elite, Good, Mediocre, and Lousy. The groups are defined as follows and are relative to the Spurs elite status.
- Elite — Teams that will give you a tough to beat at home and crazy tough in their arena.
- Good — Teams you should generally beat at home and are difficult in their arena. These are teams you will split a season series with.
- Mediocre — You should always beat them at home, though some might be tough, and they will be a tough road game on occasion.
- Lousy — Teams you should always beat. Every time. Over the course of the season, you might lose 2-3 games to this group.
Here is how I would group teams coming into this season based on where I expect them to be at the end of the season. This is obviously subjective. I’m already re-thinking where I have the Pacers (without Granger), the Lakers (they’ll be good eventually), and the Grizzlies (they might be elite) and Clippers (elite as well).
- Elite: Miami, Thunder, Lakers
- Good: Knicks, Bulls, Celtics, Pacers, Clippers, Grizzlies, Nuggets
- Mediocre: Sixers, Nets, Mavericks, Timberwolves, Blazers, Jazz
- Lousy: Bobcats, Raptors, Pistons, Cavaliers, Magic, Hawks, Wizards, Bucks, Rockets, Suns, Kings, Warriors, Hornets
Yes, that’s a lot of lousy in the East. Let’s face it, though, the East really sucks this year. With Derrick Rose hurt, five of the best six teams are in the West. Not only that, but the East really has a shit-ton of shitty teams. I might have the Bucks too low, but I also might have the Sixers, Bulls, and Nets too high.
Now, noticing the Spurs early schedule was pretty tough, I decided to find a way to quantify how tough. So, I came up withe following system. Assign a point value to each team based on their grouping above. Elite is 4. Good is 3. Mediocre is 2. Lousy is 1.
Pretty simple so far. Then I needed to account for two scheduling factors. One, road games are harder than home games. Two, back to backs are harder than not back to backs. So, let’s add 1 for a road game and 1 for a back to back. Therefore, we end up with this: The Spurs’ game in Miami on November 29th on the SEcond GAme of a BAck to BAck is a 6 (4 for elite + 1 for roadie + 1 for SEGABABA) . The home game against the Bucks on December 5 is a 1 (1 for lousy).
With his numbering system in hand, let’s look at the schedule month-by-month.
|Total — 17 games||42||11||4||57|
|Total — 16 games||30||7||4||41|
NOTE: The Spurs have an interesting road trip in December. They play four straight games in four different time zones. EST, CST, MST, and PST. It’s a pretty brutal travel stretch with the first game being a SEGABABA and ending with a back to back. So in seven days they go SA, Charlotte, Houston, Salt Lake City, Portland, SA (assuming they come home after the game).
|Total — 15 games||28||7||3||38|
|Total — 11 games||17||9||2||28|
|Total — 14 games||30||2||1||33|
|Total — 9 games||20||5||2||27|
NOTE: This is a way to compare sections of the Spurs’ schedule. This is not in any way a comparison to other team’s schedules.
Looking at those monthly totals you can see that November is clearly the toughest month and only April comes close. Even the road heavy February is pretty tame. The one thing that doesn’t show up here is the tremendously easy schedule from January 18th — my wife’s birthday — until March 2th. In that 29 game stretch, the average toughness of the opponent is 2.4 with a large part of it coming from road games and back-to-backs. The average strength of the opponent (my rating only) is just 1.7. In short, don’t let a relatively slow start get you down. Also don’t let a huge run from mid-January to mid-March get you too excited.
The Spurs only have eight back-to-backs in the last four months of the season. They have eight in the first two months. The Grizzlies game in mid-January that marks the drop off in the schedule is the 41st game of the season. It will be a great time to take a look at where the team stands.
In my prediction, I look at groups of games and make guesses. I usually look at a 5-6 game stretch and think the team should go 4-2 or something like that. Any given game can go anyway, but if the Spurs are playing four straight at home against lousy teams then I will probably pick them to go 4-0. Four straight on the road against lousy teams and I’ll expect them to lose one of them.
November: Look for the Spurs to go 12-5 or 11-6. I think they are already one game ahead of the pace I’d choose for them with their 3 wins on the west coast trip and the win over the Thunder. Expect them to drop another (after the Knicks loss) on this home stand and 2 or 3 on the east coast trip. If they end the month at 12-5 or better, then they will have played really well. I’m saying 12-5 as my final answer.
December: Things start tough with the Grizzlies and then there is a really tough stretch in the middle. I think the Spurs will drop one of the early home games, then one of the road games, then 2 of the next 3 in the Celtics, Thunder, Nuggets set. I expect them to then finish out the month at 4-2 or 5-1. I’ll say 5-1 with a loss in one of the Mavs games. That makes them 11-5 in December.
January: They will start 3-1, then go 2-2 with the Lakers, @Grizz, Wolves, Grizz set. Then I expect them to only lose 1 game the rest of the month. That’s an 11-4 month.
February: A loss in Brooklyn or Chicago and then one on the West coast is it for the month. 9-2
March: They’ll drop one of the Thunder/Wolves back-to-back and one of the last three in the Nuggets-Clippers-Heat home stand. Plus one random loss during the month. 11-3 for the month of March.
April: Four really tough road games. I think the Spurs take 2 of the 4 and win all the rest. That’s 7-2 for the month.
Season: Add it all up and you get 61-21. Probably good for second in the West and third in the league. My prognostications has them going 33-8 in the second half of the season.