The Spurs’ road blues are continuing.
While their annual rodeo road trip is supposed to represent the San Antonio Spurs‘ ultimate test of stamina, the grind started at least a week and a half early this season. Saturday’s 117-101 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers marked the Spurs’ seventh game in eleven days dating back to a January 24 blowout to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“I think we fought through it and we continue to grow as a team, continue to stick together, and have each other’s back,” Spurs forward Keldon Johnson, who’d missed the previous two games with an elbow laceration, said.
“This is definitely like character building for us. It’s never going to be easy and on nights like this when you don’t have the energy, I find a way to get it done. We are learning and growing, and we’re going to continue to find a way to get it done,” the longest-tenured Spur added.
The Cavs add to the Spurs’ fatigue
More problematic than the Spurs tired legs were the 31-16 Cavs, who’ve won five straight and sit third in the Eastern Conference.
“Their length and physicality pose a big problem and so does their talent. We didn’t have as much juice [as the night before], obviously. That’s three in four nights, three weekends in a row and it started to show,” Gregg Popovich said of his team’s recent stint. “I think they’re trying hard but couldn’t make a shot in the first half, came back and played better in the second half. Get a little rest and move on.”
Zach Collins told ClutchPoints that the team’s grueling schedule may have played a part in Saturday’s outcome. Dating back to January 19, San Antonio played 10 games in 15 days.
“Yeah, probably, but it’s the NBA. That’s why people love to watch this league,” the Spurs center continued. “We’re playing with a lot of factors day in and day out and strength of schedule is one of them. When you have three or four weekends in a row, back-to-backs, or three in four nights, it’s tough. But it’s the NBA and we’ve got to get used to it.”
For Spurs star Victor Wembanyama, the grueling stretch came with congestion and body aches over the weekend thanks to South Texans allergies.
“Still, I’m glad that my body’s healthy. Even though it’s hard, I’m glad it’s not getting any red flags. It is how it is,” Wemby shared. “Of course, I’d like everything, the conditioning, to be perfect. You’ve got to pick your battle. At this point in my career, we also want my muscle to be maintained more than my legs to be fresh.”
The team now has several days in between contests. With San Antonio’s Stock Show & Rodeo taking over the Frost Bank Center, the Spurs’ annual February jaunt takes them to Miami for a game on Wednesday.
“As everybody knows, we’re going on a really long road trip against some really good teams. So it’ll not only be good for rest, but to get away from the game day, mental side of it too just to get in the gym and practice. We haven’t practiced for so long because we couldn’t, so it’ll be good for us,” Collins said.
The rodeo road trip consists of nine games that won’t have the Spurs back at their home arena until February 29.