Game-by-Game Predictions for San Antonio Spurs' December
From December 1 to the month's final day, the San Antonio Spurs will be forced to play a tight, difficult schedule in 2012.
The team began its 2012-13 campaign with an astonishing 13-4 record and will enter December as one of the league's best teams.
Over the course of the next 16 games, the Spurs will play in different types of games—wins, losses, overtime finishes and complete blowouts.
Let's look at how they will fair in each December game.
Saturday, December 1 vs. Memphis Grizzlies
The Spurs' first game is a strenuous one, as they're forced to take on the red-hot Memphis Grizzlies in San Antonio.
The Grizzlies are a tough rival for the Spurs, as evidenced by their first playoff round meeting two seasons ago. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are a difficult tandem for the Spurs to deal with, however Tiago Splitter's emergence should help them with that particular battle.
After being rested against the Miami Heat, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green will all be fully rested, as is Kawhi Leonard who is targeting this game as his return date.
The game will be close, but the Spurs should be able to finish on top, by the end.
Wednesday, December 5 vs. Milwaukee Bucks
After beating the Grizzlies, the Spurs will look to continue their dominance against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Bucks have shown a vast improvement from last year, but even so—they don't match up to the Spurs. With an extended period of rest, a win at home shouldn't be difficult for the Spurs.
Kawhi Leonard is eyeing the Memphis game as his return, but even if the injury prevents him from playing in that one, he should be good to go four days later.
The Spurs match up well with the Bucks, with a dominant point guard to counter Brandon Jennings as well as a strong shooting tandem to parry Monta Ellis' attack. With rest and a stadium full of cheering fans, the Spurs should have very little trouble winning this one.
Friday, December 7 vs. Houston Rockets
On December 7, the Houston Rockets come into town for the first of three games over the course of the month.
The team is certainly better than originally thought following the James Harden acquisition. However, the team still has not reached the caliber of its cross-state counterparts.
Jeremy Lin has been struggling this year, and Tony Parker will likely take advantage of that. James Harden's scoring will likely be matched by Manu Ginobili, who is currently recovering from his slow start, as well as Danny Green and Gary Neal who have proved to be productive role players.
Omer Asik may give Tim Duncan a few issues down low, but the 13 time All-Star should still win the personal matchup, especially if he continues the MVP play that he has showcased thus far.
With a day of rest behind them, the Spurs should walk away with a win, in their first matchup of December.
Saturday, December 8 at Charlotte Bobcats
Within the span of a day, the Spurs need to travel from Houston all the way to North Carolina, a distance that would throw most teams off their game.
Despite the fact that this will be one of their most tiring back-to-backs this season, the Charlotte Bobcats simply don't possess the talent to beat the Spurs, even on an off night.
Sure, the 'Cats are more talented than their former selves, but they are yet to become playoff contenders, unlike the Spurs who are locks to make the postseason.
The game won't be as close as it should be, due to the unfavorable conditions, but the Spurs should still manage to win this one, despite the discouraging signs.
Monday, December 10 at Houston Rockets
Though the Spurs were able to pull off their previous victory despite little rest and heavy traveling, this time they won't be so lucky. After traveling from San Antonio to Charlotte, the Spurs will head back to Texas where they will face the Rockets on the road.
Beating a team three times over the course of a month is difficult, and this game is the Rockets' best chance to steal a victory.
Harden is talented enough to take over a game, and if Manu Ginobili—the team's most injury-plagued star—should have trouble adapting to the conditions, Harden will likely take advantage of him.
The Spurs are still the superior Texas team, but the Rockets will squeeze through, winning their second December battle.
Wednesday, December 12 at Utah Jazz
The San Antonio Spurs played a remarkably tight game against the Utah Jazz earlier in the season, although the small gap between either team's scores can be credited to a career performance by Mo Williams.
Even though the Jazz will have home-court advantage this time, the game should finish in similar fashion—with the Spurs edging out their opponent.
The team will be looking to bounce back after being upset by the Rockets, and while the game won't be a blowout from the start, the Spurs should have control of this one for the majority of the game.
Thursday, December 13 at Portland Trail Blazers
Don't worry—your eyesight isn't going. You did read that correctly. On December 13, the Spurs will lose to the Portland Trail Blazers.
The same Blazers that they beat without Tony Parker. The same Blazers that lost to the Wizards. Only this time, the Blazers will end victorious.
The Spurs will be playing their fifth game in seven days, with the Portland contest being the second game in a back-to-back.
With no day of rest in-between, the Spurs will be forced to fly from Utah to Portland, while the Blazers will be fresh off of two days of rest.
This game also seems like the perfect time for Gregg Popovich to pull one of his famous "DNP all of your starters" move, due to the rigorous schedule and the fact that the game is on national TV.
I wonder what David Stern would think about that...
Saturday, December 15 vs Boston Celtics
After an eternity of road games, the Spurs will finally return to San Antonio to face the Boston Celtics in their second meeting of the season.
They emerged victorious in the first, and while the trip from Portland to San Antonio is tiring, I wouldn't be surprised if Duncan and company sit out the previous game anyway.
Regardless, the Spurs should be able to defeat their Eastern Conference counterparts. The Celtics are a great team, but have struggled slightly thus far, whereas the Spurs have been completely dominant.
If the Spurs are physically ready for this matchup, winning shouldn't be too hard of a task.
Monday, December 17 at Oklahoma City Thunder
The Spurs managed to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in their first matchup of the season after Tony Parker knocked down a game-winning buzzer beater to put them ahead.
Now, in their second contest, the Thunder will be looking for revenge, and with home-court advantage—they should beat the Spurs fairly easily.
Stephen Jackson could potentially return, although another two-and-a-half weeks of rehab seem to be in store. Without him the Spurs could run into trouble containing Kevin Durant.
The Spurs may be the better team when at full strength, but on the road, without one of their key contributors, a win over last year's conference champions will be difficult.
Tuesday, December 18 at Denver Nuggets
The Spurs first faced off against the Denver Nuggets earlier this season and won the game fairly easily by a 26 point margin.
They did so without the help of Kawhi Leonard, who will likely be back for this matchup. Stephen Jackson could possibly return too, as his recovery plans set a day around this one to be his ideal return date.
The Nuggets have had a few issues this season, and the Spurs' veteran leadership should propel them over the Nuggets' young core.
Though they will be on the road, San Antonio will be hungry for a win following its loss to Oklahoma City, and a struggling Denver is the perfect team to capture one against.
Friday, December 21 vs. New Orleans Hornets
Who could forget the Spurs' and New Orleans Hornets' opening game?
The match featured an incredible battle between young and old, athleticism and experience. The Duncan-led Spurs ultimately edged out their opponents, although the game was close, due to an incredible performance by Anthony Davis.
Since then, Davis has been sidelined with an injury, and the Hornets have struggled in response.
The Spurs know what it takes to beat this team, and with a stadium full of loyal fans this time around, beating the Hornets should be a walk in the park for the veteran team.
Sunday, December 23 vs. Dallas Mavericks
Having faced Memphis and Miami in their previous two games, beating the Spurs on December 23 will be a difficult task for the Dallas Mavericks.
The Spurs, meanwhile, will be fresh off of a win over the lowly Hornets, and the hometown advantage over their in-state rival should be a major factor.
Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki will face off for the first time this season, and while the Mavs have found another star in O.J. Mayo, they simply won't have the talent to put the Spurs away in this contest.
The team faces similar age issues that the Spurs have battled with, so rest will only go in San Antonio's favor. The Spurs are a better team anyway, but with so much help, they should be able to finish on top.
Wednesday, December 26 vs. Toronto Raptors
If you had told me last week that the Spurs would need two overtimes to beat the Toronto Raptors, I would have called you crazy. However, you would have been right.
The Raptors aren't nearly as bad as their record suggests, but they are by no means equivalent to the San Antonio Spurs in terms of talent.
The Raptors managed to force the game into extra time on their home turf, but this time around, with two full days of rest behind them, the Spurs should have no problems taking care of the Raptors in San Antonio.
Momentum will be in the Spurs' favor, after winning their last three games. The Spurs have the star power to defeat the Raptors, and unless something crazy happens, the Spurs should be able to beat their opponents in regulation.
Friday, December 28 vs. Houston Rockets
After winning their last four games, the Spurs will host the Houston Rockets, looking to extend their streak to five.
The meeting will be the two teams' third and final of the month, and the Spurs will likely have a bad taste in their mouth after their previous loss.
However, with the game being played at home, the Spurs should be able to manage a win. They are undoubtedly better than the Rockets, and will amend their mistakes from the previous match.
With their roster likely back to full health, beating the Rockets in their final matchup shouldn't be difficult for the Spurs.
Sunday, December 30 at Dallas Mavericks
The Spurs' five-game winning streak comes to a crushing halt against Dirk Nowitzki and company.
The Dallas Mavericks have grown a reputation as one of the Spurs' biggest rivals, so pitching for the other team is certainly a crime.
The Spurs managed to remain victorious in the team's first meeting of the year, but playing the game in Dallas increases the Mavericks' chances heavily.
The Spurs still remain a top team, but after entering New Year's Eve, the team will be forced to begin their streak all over.
Monday, December 31 vs. Brooklyn Nets
The Spurs travel back to the Alamo City to face the refurbished Brooklyn Nets for the last game of December. While others will spend the final few minutes of 2012 celebrating with friends and family, the Spurs will celebrate with a tactic they know best—winning.
While Brook Lopez is a great offensive player, his defensive game is limited and his rebounding can be a non-factor at times, solving the Spurs' height issue in this matchup.
Deron Williams matches up nicely with Tony Parker, as does Kawhi Leonard with Gerald Wallace.
Joe Johnson could pose a threat, but the Spurs' deep bench could keep them in it for a close game, so that they can steal a victory at the last moment. Expect the San Antonio Spurs to end December and 2012 on a positive note, with a win over the Brooklyn Nets.
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