San Antonio Spurs: 10 Biggest Remaining Games of 2012 NBA Campaign

Luis Batlle@lbatll1Contributor IFebruary 8, 2012

San Antonio Spurs: 10 Biggest Remaining Games of 2012 NBA Campaign

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    Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs were considered a team well past their prime, a ballclub that without Manu Ginobili had no shot at getting off to a positive start.

    Sure enough, these Spurs are 17-9, No. 3 in the West and looking to make another run at the top seed in the conference.

    Talk about an impressive basketball team.

    These are the 10 games remaining on the Spurs' schedule that will have a significant bearing on the team's success down the road.

Wed., Feb. 8 at Philadelphia 76ers

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    Traveling to play against the hottest team in the NBA will be a tall task for these San Antonio Spurs to handle, although they well can ride the storm.

    It will take step-up play of Tony Parker in this contest, as the Philadelphia 76ers are a team heavily predicated on their guard play.

    If Lou Williams and Jrue Holiday can get off to quick, explosive starts offensively, Parker and Company will be playing catch-up early.

    The 76ers are also the No. 1 defense in the NBA, allowing just 86.6 points per game on the year.

    If the Spurs are capable of beating these streaking Sixers, there is no question that at 18-8 this is a team that is ready to make a run for the top spot in the West.

Sat., Feb. 18 at Los Angeles Clippers

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    Tim Duncan will have his hands full with Blake Griffin attacking the rim throughout the contest, yet there is no question that the Spurs have a strong chance to come out on top.

    For one, the Spurs have already beaten the Los Angeles Clippers this season in what was a 115-90 victory where the Clippers didn't come close to winning the game.

    The key for the Spurs in this one will to be able to contain Griffin in the post, which Duncan is certainly capable of doing. If Duncan is able to make Griffin catch the ball 15 to 20 feet from the basket at a standstill, it will disrupt his game significantly.

    Griffin is a player that likes passes off of cuts or looks in the post when he has a defender deep in the paint.

    The Duncan vs. Griffin matchup will be the deciding factor in this one, as this game will be as important as any for the Spurs to establish themselves as a top-two team in the conference.

Tues., Feb. 21 at Portland Trail Blazers

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    I feel for you, Pop.

    These Portland Trail blazers will be a headache to deal with to say the least.

    This game against Portland will be the eighth consecutive road game for the Spurs, as the team will likely be worn out in this contest.

    The 14-11 Trail Blazers will likely be fighting for higher seeding upon meeting up with the Spurs in this game, as there will be all the more pressure on San Antonio to come out on top.

    Expect the Spurs to rise to the occasion, yet don't be surprised if this young, talented Trail Blazers team takes this one from what will be a worn-out Spurs ballclub.

Wed., Feb. 29 vs. Chicago Bulls

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    Derrick Rose vs. Tony Parker, Tim Duncan up against Carlos Boozer—what's not to love?

    The Spurs travel back home after a nine-game road trip for their first of seven straight home games. It will be a significant game for these Spurs, as it will be the team's one chance to take down the Chicago Bulls this season.

    Playing against a top-two team in the Eastern Conference, a win would give the Spurs a particular confidence heading into the second half of the season. Picking up the "W" would be a valuable one for the team's morale.

    Rose would be a tough cover, as the Spurs will have to hope their experienced, defensive-minded ballclub has what it takes to get the job done.

Wed., March 7 vs. New York Knicks

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    Playing at Madison Square Garden against a New York Knicks team that has started to figure it out will be anything but easy for these Spurs.

    Come March, this will be a team in the playoff hunt and will be anchored by a motivated Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony heading down the final stretch of the season.

    Not to mention, guard Jeremy Lin has been just short of sensational for this ballclub in his last several outings, which is a promising sign for an injury-ridden backcourt.

    At the moment this game would seem to have nothing in the balance, yet come March it will be a significant win for these Spurs to pick up.

Fri., March 9 vs. Los Angeles Clippers

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    Regardless of whether or not the Spurs get a win over the Clippers in the previous meeting, this will be a game that the Spurs must win going forward.

    Taking a 3-0 or 2-1 hold over the Blake Griffin-led Clippers would give the Spurs a new sense of legitimacy. They will have taken down what fans and analysts say are a league elite.

    It is important for this team to win games against some of the hotter, younger teams in the league.

    Expect the Spurs to come out fired up in this one, as the play of DeJuan Blair and Tim Duncan will be deciding factors in this showdown.

Fri., March 16 at Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Manu Ginobili is a must if these Spurs expect to eclipse the league's top team.

    The Oklahoma City Thunder have been hitting on all cylinders, and should make the most of this matchup against the Spurs. Russell Westbrook has improved his jump shot while Kevin Durant has had arguably his best season in the league.

    The key here will be for the Spurs to get it going offensively, as the one fault on this Thunder team is their inconsistent defensive effort.

    This game will be a telling one late in the season, as the Spurs and Thunder will likely be competing for top spots in the conference.

Wed., March 21 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Easily the hottest, most feared young team in the league right now, the Minnesota Timberwolves are set to be making a playoff push late in March.

    The Timberwolves could also be the one team the Spurs would have to face early in the NBA playoffs.

    Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and the T'Wolves have the components of a team that could make a significant run in the playoffs. It will be a game in which the Spurs have to get a good feel for this up-and-coming team.

    The victory will be important, but not essential. The key here for the Spurs will be to get a feel for this Wolves team and better prepare for them in their eventual 2012 postseason meeting.

Wed., April 4 at Boston Celtics

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    When the San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics meet, it’s difficult to say which team will come out on top.

    These are two of the more similar teams in the league—they are both veteran ballclubs focused on defensive effort and boasting two explosive point guards.

    Watching Rajon Rondo and Tony Parker is seldom a dull matchup, as both are two of the quicker, more explosive guards in the game.

Tue., April 27 at Los Angeles Lakers

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    It doesn’t get much better than a Spurs-Lakers rivalry game.

    A game against the L.A. Lakers late this season will be a telling one for this Spurs team headed into the postseason.

    At this point in the regular season a matchup like this should have playoff seeding in the balance. It will be all the more significant that the Spurs win this game for the team’s confidence heading into the NBA playoffs.

    Parker will have to be the difference-maker in a game where the Spurs hold the significant advantage in the backcourt. His ability to push the basketball and make plays taking the ball to the cup will be much needed in this contest.