San Antonio Spurs 2012-13 Schedule: Monthly Breakdown and W-L Predictions

Kurt ScottContributor IIIJuly 31, 2012

San Antonio Spurs 2012-13 Schedule: Monthly Breakdown and W-L Predictions

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    On the heels of a historic but ultimately disappointing playoff run, the San Antonio Spurs will open the 2012 NBA season at the New Orleans Hornets on Halloween night.

    In addition to the same tried and true questions about their age and durability, the Spurs will face a tougher Western Conference field, a return to the marathon-like 82-game schedule and the challenge of balancing rest for old legs with regular-season success.

    Now that the full schedule has been released, let's take a month-by-month look at what this San Antonio team will face in the 2012-13 season.

October/November Schedule

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    Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ New Orleans Hornets

    Thursday, November 1, 2012 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

    Saturday, November 3, 2012 vs. Utah Jazz

    Monday, November 5, 2012 vs. Indiana Pacers

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012 @ Los Angeles Clippers

    Friday, November 9, 2012 @ Sacramento Kings

    Saturday, November 10, 2012 @ Portland Trail Blazers

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012 @ Los Angeles Lakers

    Thursday, November 15, 2012 vs. New York Knicks

    Saturday, November 17, 2012 vs. Denver Nuggets

    Monday, November 19, 2012 vs. Los Angeles Clippers

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012 @ Boston Celtics

    Friday, November 23, 2012 @ Indiana Pacers

    Sunday, November 25, 2012 @ Toronto Raptors

    Monday, November 26, 2012 @ Washington Wizards

    Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ Orlando Magic

    Thursday, November 29, 2012 @ Miami Heat

October/November Key Games

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    Thursday, November 1, 2012 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

    San Antonio’s home opener, and a rematch of last year’s Western Conference finals. The AT&T Center crowd will be out for blood in what could be a tone-setter for the early season.

     

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012 @ Los Angeles Clippers

    Speaking of vengeance, meet the Los Angeles Clippers, who will surely have the taste of 2012’s playoff sweep in their mouths. For the Spurs, this is the first game in a tough four-game road trip. A good showing will be important here, as they prepare for a five-game trip in the back half of the month.

     

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012 @ Los Angeles Lakers

    The Spurs took the season series last year, 2-1, and averaged 10 more points per game than Los Angeles did in their head-to-head matchups. But this will be their first look at the Nash-led Lakers. A must-watch game, for sure.

     

    Thursday, November 29, 2012 @ Miami Heat

    Is any game in November hugely important? No. Would the Spurs love to steal a road game against the Miami Heat? Absolutely. In a month full of statement games, a win against the reigning champs would be the biggest trophy in the case.

     

    October/November W-L Prediction: 10-7

    Wins: Hornets, Jazz, Pacers, Kings, Trail Blazers, Knicks, Clippers, Raptors, Wizards, Magic

    Losses: Thunder, Clippers, Lakers, Nuggets, Celtics, Pacers, Heat

October/November Intriguing Storylines

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    Best One-on-One Matchup of November

    It’s always a treat to watch one-time Southwest Division rivals Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan go head-to-head. And now that KG has found success playing the center position, the two will spend more time guarding one another than they have in recent years.

    Though both are older and slower than they were in the mid-2000s, the dynamics of the matchup remain the same: Duncan will attempt to counter Garnett’s athleticism with his wider base and greater comfort in the post.

     

    San Antonio has the best-case scenario in November if...

    It picks up the easy wins where it can. The Spurs can weather a brutal schedule to begin the season by beating bottom-dwellers like the Kings, Raptors and Wizards. They’ll also need to notch wins against up-and-comers like the Hornets and Trailer Blazers if they want to start the season on a high note.

     

    San Antonio has the worst case-scenario in November if...

    It struggles to get it done on the road. The Spurs have traditionally been an excellent away team, but they’ll face a particularly daunting test early: They play four away games in a row beginning on the seventh, and cap the month with a five-game trip culminating in Miami.

    San Antonio’s November schedule is a murderer’s row, even for a roster as veteran as this one.

December Schedule

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    Saturday, December 1, 2012 vs. Memphis Grizzlies

    Wednesday, December 5, 2012 vs. Milwaukee Bucks

    Friday, December 7, 2012 vs. Houston Rockets

    Saturday, December 8, 2012 @ Charlotte Bobcats

    Monday, December 10, 2012 @ Houston Rockets

    Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ Utah Jazz

    Thursday, December 13, 2012 @ Portland Trail Blazers

    Saturday, December 15, 2012 vs. Boston Celtics

    Monday, December 17, 2012 @ Oklahoma City Thunder

    Tuesday, December 18, 2012 @ Denver Nuggets

    Friday, December 21, 2012 vs. New Orleans Hornets

    Sunday, December 23, 2012 vs. Dallas Mavericks

    Wednesday, December 26, 2012 vs. Toronto Raptors

    Friday, December 28, 2012 vs. Houston Rockets

    Sunday, December 30, 2012 @ Dallas Mavericks

    Monday, December 31, 2012 vs. Brooklyn Nets

December Key Games

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    Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ Utah Jazz

    Will the Jazz, with an upgrade at point guard in Mo Williams and another year of development for their young bigs, be a more formidable team than the one San Antonio swept out of the playoffs?

    Regardless, Utah is a great home team, so this could be a fun game.

     

    Monday, December 17, 2012 @ Oklahoma City Thunder

    Every game against the Thunder carries added meaning after last year’s matchup. San Antonio knows it can win in Oklahoma City. But with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka all benefiting from Olympic experience this summer, it’ll be interesting to see if this young roster reaches another echelon.

     

    Tuesday, December 18, 2012 @ Denver Nuggets

    We all know the Nuggets' M.O.: Run teams out of their high-altitude arena. With young wings like Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, San Antonio can play an up-tempo game, too, making this an entertaining mid-December game.

     

    Monday, December 31, 2012 vs. Brooklyn Nets

    The Spurs draw Mikhail Prokhorov’s team on New Year’s Eve. We’ll get an indication of how good the Nets can be and how they stack up against a Western Conference powerhouse.

     

    December W-L Prediction: 11-5 (21-12)

    Wins: Bucks, Rockets, Bobcats, Rockets, Trail Blazers, Celtics, Hornets, Mavericks, Raptors, Rockets, Mavericks

    Losses: Grizzlies, Jazz, Thunder, Nuggets, Nets

December Intriguing Storylines

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    Best One-on-One Matchup of December

    Tony Parker vs. Deron Williams.

    Parker has gotten the best of Williams in their head-to-head matchups over the last two seasons, but it’ll be interesting to see if D-Will, who was once considered a top-two point guard, can return to those heights now that he has a team around him.

    He’s a bigger guard than Parker and a better distributor. But he’s also a defensive sieve, meaning TP could find himself in the lane all night long if the Nets don’t rotate to contain his drive.

     

    San Antonio has the best-case scenario in December if...

    I wouldn’t call December a cupcake schedule, but it’s definitely a reprieve after a brutal November. San Antonio plays only one back-to-back in the entire month and could really rack up the wins against teams like Houston (who they play three times), Charlotte and Toronto.

     

    San Antonio has the worst-case scenario in December if...

    It’s possible that the opponents that look bad in July actually become good by December. Houston’s efforts to stockpile trade assets has looked fool-hardy in the early goings, but the Western Conference landscape will change entirely if it lands a star like Dwight Howard.

    New Orleans played competitive basketball all season last year despite its record, and the additions of Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas could make Toronto a different, much more daunting squad.

    In any case, it’s not likely that December will be a disaster for San Antonio. Seven losses is probably the worst it can do, and even that seems like a long shot.

January Schedule

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    Wednesday, January 2, 2013 @ Milwaukee Bucks

    Thursday, January 3, 2013 @ New York Knicks

    Saturday, January 5, 2013 vs. Philadelphia 76ers

    Monday, January 7, 2013 @ New Orleans Hornets

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013 vs. Los Angeles Lakers

    Friday, January 11, 2013 @ Memphis Grizzlies

    Sunday, January 13, 2013 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 vs. Memphis Grizzlies

    Friday, January 18, 2013 vs. Golden State Warriors

    Saturday, January 19, 2013 @ Atlanta Hawks

    Monday, January 21, 2013 @ Philadelphia 76ers

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013 vs. New Orleans Hornets

    Friday, January 25, 2013 @ Dallas Mavericks

    Saturday, January 26, 2013 vs. Phoenix Suns

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013 vs. Charlotte Bobcats

January Key Games

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    Thursday, January 3, 2013 @ New York Knicks

    I’m not a believer in the Knicks this season. But Madison Square Garden has one of the best home crowds in the NBA, and the Knicks pick their game up for quality opponents.

     

    Friday, January 11, 2013 @ Memphis Grizzlies

    If Zach Randolph has found his game again by this point in the season, he could give San Antonio fits like he did in the 2011 playoffs. It will also be interesting to see if Rudy Gay, long the subject of trade talks, is still on the roster.

     

    Friday, January 18, 2013 vs. Golden State Warriors

    With high-upside studs Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson at the wings, the Warriors are perhaps the most intriguing young team in the league. And if point guard Steph Curry is healthy—a big if—they could give the Spurs a run for their money.

     

    Friday, January 25, 2013 @ Dallas Mavericks

    How motivated will Dirk be after the Mavericks’ plan to land Deron Williams and Dwight Howard blew up? He struggled with post-championship malaise last season. This time around, having no hope to win a championship could have the same effect.

     

    January W-L Prediction: 10-5 (31-17)

    Wins: Bucks, 76ers, Grizzlies, Warriors, Hawks, 76ers, Hornets, Mavericks, Suns, Bobcats

    Losses: Knicks, Hornets, Lakers, Grizzlies, Timberwolves

January Intriguing Storylines

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    Best One-on-One Matchup of January

    We’ll get a chance to see how Anthony Davis—“the best big man prospect since Tim Duncan”—looks against Tim Duncan.

    Of course, their games bear little resemblance at this stage of their respective careers. Davis is an uber-athletic shot-blocker who will likely score most of his points facing the basket, whereas Duncan uses footwork and guile to do his damage in the post.

    Offensive skill set aside, the rookie big man is a special talent, and by this point in the season, he’ll have had a chance to get his feet wet. This should be a great matchup.

     

    San Antonio has the best-case scenario in January if...

    It uses easy games in the back half of the month to rattle off a big win streak. To close January, the Spurs play Golden State, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Dallas, Phoenix and Charlotte, all of whom are worse than San Antonio—if not much worse.

    And, once again, the back-to-back fairy was kind to the Spurs. They only play two this month, and in one of them, their second game is a home contest against the Suns.

     

    San Antonio has the worst-case scenario in January if...

    It gets hit with the injury bug or the January doldrums. In 2011-12, the Spurs finished an unimpressive 10-8 in January, including 3-7 on the road.

    Another year, another lengthy regular season for the Spurs. One gets the impression that San Antonio, more than any other team, would benefit from fast-forwarding to the playoffs.

February Schedule

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    Saturday, February 2, 2013 vs. Washington Wizards

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013 vs. @ Minnesota Timberwolves

    Friday, February 8, 2013 @ Detroit Pistons

    Monday, February 11, 2013 @ Chicago Bulls

    Wednesday, February 13, 2013 @ Cleveland Cavaliers

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013 @ Sacramento Kings

    Thursday, February 21, 2013 @ Los Angeles Clippers

    Friday, February 22, 2013 @ Golden State Warriors

    Sunday, February 24, 2013 @ Phoenix Suns

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013 vs. Phoenix Suns

February Key Games

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    Wednesday, February 6, 2013 vs. @ Minnesota Timberwolves

    Ricky Rubio should be back in the mix by this point, and the Timberwolves smell like a top-six seed in the West to me. I expect the Spurs to struggle to contend with Minnesota’s balanced attack in this one.

     

    Monday, February 11, 2013 @ Chicago Bulls

    If Derrick Rose is still out, and the most reliable prognosticators say he will be, the Spurs should win this game. But coach Tom Thibodeau’s defensive schemes are an equalizer, meaning San Antonio would do well to take this one seriously.

     

    Wednesday, February 13, 2013 @ Cleveland Cavaliers

    With budding star Kyrie Irving, a healthy Anderson Varejao and a more seasoned Tristan Thompson, the Cavs are a good bet to challenge for a playoff seed next season. This should be a compelling matchup for the Spurs, who will try to expose Cleveland’s inexperience.

     

    Thursday, February 21, 2013 @ Los Angeles Clippers

    This promises to be an entertaining series all year long. And by February, we’ll know whether each team belongs in the top or bottom half of the Western Conference playoff picture.

     

    February W-L Projection: 4-7 (35-24)

    Wins: Wizards, Pistons, Bulls, Phoenix

    Losses: Timberwolves, Nets, Cavs, Kings, Warriors, Phoenix, Clippers

February Intriquing Storylines

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    Best One-on-One Matchup of January

    Tony Parker vs. a healthy Ricky Rubio.

    As we praised Rubio for his flashy passing and uncanny anticipation last season, we lost sight of the terrific defense he played against the NBA’s top point guards.

    He has fantastic hands, above-average size and better lateral movement than most had expected, making him a difficult defender to drive around.

    Parker will have his work cut out for him if he wants to get his penetration game going in Minnesota.

     

    San Antonio has the best-case scenario in February if...

    It weathers the storm and takes care of business against the teams it's supposed to beat. I expect February to be an ugly month for the Spurs—the key here will be to make sure they don’t lose too much ground to the Western Conference’s best clubs.

     

    San Antonio has the worst-case scenario in February if...

    The dreaded rodeo trip takes its toll early. As mentioned above, Cleveland and a Rose-less Chicago won’t be cakewalks, which means it’s critical that San Antonio wins games against Washington, Detroit and Sacramento.

    With nine road games in a row, the Spurs can’t afford to let things get out of hand.

March Schedule

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    Friday, March 1, 2013 vs. Sacramento Kings

    Sunday, March 3, 2013 vs. Detroit Pistons

    Wednesday, March 6, 2013 vs. Chicago Bulls

    Friday, March 8, 2013 vs. Portland Trail Blazers

    Monday, March 11, 2013 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

    Tuesday, March 12, 2013 @ Minnesota Timberwolves

    Thursday, March 14, 2013 vs. Dallas Mavericks

    Saturday, March 16, 2013 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

    Wednesday, March 20, 2013 vs. Golden State Warriors

    Friday, March 22, 2013 vs. Utah Jazz

    Sunday, March 24, 2013 @ Houston Rockets

    Wednesday, March 27, 2013 vs. Denver Nuggets

    Friday, March 29, 2013 vs. Los Angeles Clippers

    Sunday, March 31, 2013 vs. Miami Heat

March Key Games

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    Friday, March 1, 2013 vs. Sacramento Kings

    Call me crazy, but I can see a scenario where the Kings aren’t God-awful this season. Rookie Thomas Robinson will do a lot to shore up their porous defense. And if they do some addition by subtraction—ahem, Tyreke Evans—they could be a fun team to watch, and a dangerous team to play.

     

    Friday, March 8, 2013 vs. Portland Trail Blazers

    After rookie Damian Lillard tore up summer league, the Trail Blazers look like they could be a very entertaining team, if not a very good one. And LaMarcus Aldridge always gets up for his head-to-heads against Tim Duncan.

     

    Sunday, March 24, 2013 @ Houston Rockets

    This will be the Spurs’ first glimpse at the post-trade deadline Rockets, who could look radically different than they do now if GM Daryl Morey lands a star.

     

    Sunday, March 31, 2013 vs. Miami Heat

    Spurs fans still wonder what would’ve happened if they’d had a crack at the Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals. A late March game obviously isn’t the same, but it’ll give both teams a good indication of how they match up with one another.

     

    March W-L Projection: 9-5 (44-29)

    Wins: Kings, Pistons, Bulls, Thunder, Cavs, Warriors, Jazz, Nuggets, Clippers

    Losses: Trail Blazers, Timberwolves, Mavericks, Rockets, Heat

March Intriguing Storylines

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    Best One-on-One Matchup of March

    Kawhi Leonard vs. LeBron James.

    LeBron will get his against the second-year forward, of course. But Leonard developed a reputation for defensive versatility in his rookie campaign, and there’s no greater test of said versatility than guarding LeBron on the perimeter and in the paint.

    He’ll also have to make LeBron work on defense if he wants to make this a contest.

    Leonard’s confidence as a scorer seemed to grow by the month last season, and the Spurs are telling anyone who’ll listen that he’s due for another big leap this year.

     

    San Antonio has the best-case scenario in March if...

    It makes the most of its six-game home stand (dating back to February 27). The Spurs play a slew of beatable teams in the first week of March and need to use this opportunity to stack wins as they head into the 2012-13 season’s home stretch.

    And, if they can accomplish that while getting some rest for Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan, so much the better.

     

    San Antonio has the worst-case scenario in April if...

    It erases its gains in the first half of the month with a bad showing in the back half. Four of San Antonio’s last five games are against playoff teams (Jazz, Nuggets, Clippers, Heat), any number of which could be jockeying with the Spurs for seeding as the season winds down.

    San Antonio will have to strike a balance between resting its legs and hanging on to home-court advantage, assuming the Spurs project to finish as a top-four team in the West.

April Schedule

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    Monday, April 1, 2013 @ Memphis Grizzlies

    Wednesday, April 3, 2013 vs. Orlando Magic

    Thursday, April 4, 2013 @ Oklahoma City

    Saturday, April 6, 2013 vs. Atlanta Hawks

    Wednesday, April 10, 2013 @ Denver Nuggets

    Friday, April 12, 2013 vs. Sacramento Kings

    Sunday, April 14, 2013 @ Los Angeles Lakers

    Monday, April 14, 2013 @ Golden State Warriors

    Wednesday, April 17, 2013 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

April Key Games

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    Monday, April 1, 2013 @ Memphis Grizzlies

    Unless San Antonio runs away from the rest of the field record-wise, this game will have playoff implications. Look for Memphis, the younger and bigger team, to try to make a statement here.

     

    Thursday, April 4, 2013 @ Oklahoma City

    This one speaks for itself. Regardless of whether this changes the postseason picture for San Antonio, it won’t want to hand a win to the team that bumped the Spurs from the conference finals in 2012. Should be competitive.

     

    Sunday, April 14, 2013 @ Los Angeles Lakers

    This is where it gets interesting. With just a few games left in the season, San Antonio may very well decide this win isn’t worth fighting for.

     

    Wednesday, April 17, 2013 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

    San Antonio is old, and Minnesota is young. Which means this game will almost certainly be conceded to the upstart Timberwolves.

     

    March W-L Projection: 5-4 (49-33)

    Wins: Magic, Hawks, Nuggets, Kings, Warriors

    Losses: Grizzlies, Thunder, Lakers, Timberwolves

April Intriguing Storylines

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    Best One-on-One Matchup of April

    Manu Ginobili vs. James Harden.

    The latter’s game is often compared to the former's—they both have unorthodox finishing styles, both are strong distributors and both can get hot from beyond the arc.

    But Harden has a long way to go to reach those heights. Regardless, this head-to-head matchup made for great basketball in the Western Conference finals, when neither had great success guarding the other.

    The only question is whether the 35-year-old Ginobili will still be playing starter’s minutes as San Antonio looks to keep his legs fresh for the long haul.

     

    San Antonio has the best-case scenario in April if...

    These games don’t matter. San Antonio would rather not trot Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Ginobili out any more than is necessary in April; Duncan, especially, could be put on ice early if the Spurs secure a playoff spot early.

     

    San Antonio has the worst-case scenario in April if...

    It has no choice but to compete in these games, and still ends up losing a good handful of them.

    The Spurs’ April opponents are physically taxing: The Grizzlies beat you up inside. The Thunder, Nuggets and Kings will try to run you off the floor.

    Coach Gregg Popovich wants no part of a grueling outing against any of these clubs, so he’ll take strides to take care of business in March.

Full-Season Record

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    With a 49-33 record to finish the season, the Spurs will be good for a fifth or sixth seed in the West.

    That's a clear drop-off from the previous two seasons, when they finished with the conference's best record. But the difference here has less to do with the Spurs getting worse than it does the West growing stronger.

    Los Angeles clearly improved with the Steve Nash acquisition.

    Memphis could improve leaps and bounds if Zach Randolph returns to his 2010-11 season form.

    Minnesota could rival the Spurs' regular-season record with a healthy Rubio, a resurgent Brandon Roy and Andrei Kirilenko in the fold.

    The Los Angeles Clippers will benefit from another year of developing chemistry, provided Blake Griffin's knee doesn't turn out to be a lingering issue.

    And, toward the back of the pack, Golden State and Portland have the talent to be bubble playoff teams.

    The cumulative effect is that the Spurs will see their regular-season win total shaved significantly. But, it's never been about the regular season for San Antonio. Home-court advantage is nice, sure, but the Spurs have the horses, the coaching and the team chemistry to chase a title on the road.