6 Key Games That Will Show What the San Antonio Spurs Are Made Of

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistOctober 23, 2012

6 Key Games That Will Show What the San Antonio Spurs Are Made Of

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    The San Antonio Spurs will face many important games during the NBA regular season. Some, however, will certainly be more important than a trip to Charlotte to take on the Bobcats.

    The core of the team—Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili—will lead the Spurs into each crucial game and look to leave the arena with a victory.

    In recent years, there has been speculation that San Antonio will regress and not be as successful as the previous season, but Gregg Popovich's crew has not been trending down.

    After finishing 50-16 and first in the Western Conference last year, San Antonio is looking to be the same squad this year—though a trip to the NBA Finals would be a welcome result.

    Here are six games that will show what the Spurs are made of.

November 1 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    San Antonio doesn't have the luxury of starting the season with easy games, as the Spurs welcome the Oklahoma City Thunder to Texas in the second game of the year.

    After San Antonio took a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals last season, the Thunder played four near-perfect games and took down the Spurs before bowing out to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.

    Neither team made many changes this offseason, and this game will give the winner a confidence boost early in the regular season.

November 29 at Miami Heat

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    A game against the defending NBA champion Miami Heat is probably a good measuring stick for any team.

    The Spurs travel to Miami to finish off the first full month of the 2012-13 season. This will also be an early-season conditioning test for San Antonio, as it will be the team's fourth game in five days.

    Defeating a roster with two superstars in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade is never going to be easy, but the Spurs always play as a complete team, and that may be the right recipe to beat the Heat.

December 18 at Denver Nuggets

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    Less than three weeks later, the Spurs travel to Denver to take on a much-improved Nuggets team.

    This roster, according to Bleacher Report's Hwi Gue Cho, could spark an argument that it is the best in Denver history.

    San Antonio will be in Oklahoma City the night before and then travel to the Mile High City to play a deep, athletic team.

    The Nuggets may not be considered an elite team in the Western Conference, but the Spurs will face a tough test in Denver.

December 30 at Dallas Mavericks

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    Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki is going to miss the first couple of weeks of the season due to injury, but he will return in plenty of time for the two Southwest Division rivals to square off in Dallas.

    This is far from the same Mavericks team that owner Mark Cuban put together last season. It features a revamped roster behind the signings of Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo and Elton Brand this offseason.

    Gregg Popovich should have his squad prepared to head into its second meeting with Dallas in eight days, as the teams will have met exactly one week earlier in San Antonio.

February 21 at Los Angeles Clippers

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    Ah, the famous "Rodeo Road Trip."

    Tim Duncan and the Spurs are always sent packing for a couple of weeks during the season while the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo occupies the AT&T Center.

    San Antonio's seventh of nine games is against Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers.

    The Spurs handled the Clips in the playoffs last season—and in 24 of the last 26 meetings—but L.A. is not to be overlooked with the talent on its roster.

April 14 at Los Angeles Lakers

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    Fast-forward to the last month of the season, and San Antonio will likely have clinched a playoff spot by this time.

    However, every game counts, and this bout may be the final test in the regular season for both teams.

    San Antonio defeated the Los Angeles Lakers twice in April last season as part of its 20-game winning streak that propelled the team to the Western Conference finals.

    The Lakers made headlines this offseason with the acquisitions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, and many NBA fans believe that Kobe Bryant's team could be the best in the conference, possibly the league.

    While the battle with the Miami Heat is an early-season measuring stick, the contest with the star-studded Los Angeles squad in the final week of the season is a crucial game to show what the Spurs' status is heading into the postseason.