The San Antonio Spurs will enter the final month of regular-season action as one of the NBA's hottest teams—and while the playoffs may be on fans' minds, the team must first take care of the nine games existing in the month of April.
Despite their dominance throughout the season, the final few weeks will be a test for the Spurs, who will face a handful of playoff-worthy squads in a short period of time.
With the Oklahoma City Thunder hot on their tails for first place, the team will need to carry over their success in the final few games of the regular season. With the stakes growing larger, fans will be in for quite the treat as the 2012-13 regular season draws to a close.
Though one may be chock-full of veterans while the other is composed of rising stars, the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors are incredibly similar from a positional standpoint.
With Tony Parker and Stephen Curry each leading their respective offenses, the head-to-head point guard matchup should not disappoint, and with All-Stars David Lee and Tim Duncan going at it down low, the game has the potential to be a thriller.
The game will be the Spurs' second-to-last before the playoffs, and being their final contest against a playoff squad, the stakes could be high. Should the Oklahoma City Thunder find themselves breathing down the Spurs' necks, a win against the Warriors would be vital.
At the same time, should the Spurs have the top seed clinched by April 15, they would likely sit their starters, with the reserves playing an increased amount—something Spurs fans always enjoy, given the depth of the squad.
The Spurs lost in overtime during their last meeting in Golden State, and given the talent of the two squads, anything could happen.
Prediction (if the starters play): Spurs 108, Warriors 96
Prediction (if the starters sit): Spurs 91, Warriors 101
It took until the final play, but the San Antonio Spurs were able to squeak by the Denver Nuggets in their last meeting.
One could only hope their next matchup will be as exciting.
When the Nuggets host the Spurs on April 10, revenge will be on their minds, and with the crowd rooting against them, the Spurs will need to bring their "A" game in order to come out on top.
Of course, if Tony Parker and Tim Duncan play the way they have throughout the season, few would expect anything else.
Though Ty Lawson may be unavailable, the talents of Andre Iguodala, Kenneth Faried and the rest of the squad will allow Denver to remain competitive.
Still, the Parker and Duncan-led Spurs should be able to squeak another one out, especially if Ty Lawson is unavailable to counter Tony Parker's heroics.
Prediction: Spurs 117, Nuggets 105
No Spurs fan has forgotten the 2011 first-round loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, and ever since a small rivalry has been ignited between these two squads.
As a team centered around its big men, the Grizzlies have the size and talent to overpower the Spurs—although the emergence of Tiago Splitter gives the Spurs plenty of firepower to counter the post attack.
At the same time, Mike Conley—one of the league's top defensive guards—will give Tony Parker a difficult matchup, and Tony Allen's stellar defense should trouble the Spurs' wings, as well.
Combine that with the fact that the Spurs will be tired after a contest with the Miami Heat from the previous day, in addition to the likely chance that Manu Ginobili remains too injured to play, and a Spurs loss could be on the horizon.
Prediction: Spurs 91, Grizzlies 100
Though the Los Angeles Lakers may be playing below preseason expectations, few can deny the abundance of talent dwelling in "LaLa Land."
The Spurs witnessed their talent first-hand, beating the Lakers by a small margin in each of their two matchups thus far.
Now for the third and final time of the regular season, these Western Conference foes will duke it out.
With a potential first-round playoff matchup a likely possibility, the game will be a good indication of what to expect. With a reinvigorated Tim Duncan, the historic Duncan-Kobe Bryant rivalry will take center stage, while Tony Parker and Dwight Howard will assist in making this superstar matchup an exciting one.
Though the Lakers will have their loyal fans behind them, the red-hot Spurs should come out on top—even if it takes a Danny Green buzzer-beater to do so.
Prediction: Spurs 101, Lakers 99
Though nothing is set in stone, the Spurs and the Thunder remain the favorites to meet in the Western Conference Finals, and the April 4 showdown will be their final regular-season matchup prior to the playoffs.
Having traded games throughout the season, the Spurs will look to prove that they can win in Oklahoma City—something they failed to do during last year's conference final, as well as their road matchup earlier this season.
At the same time, they carry the momentum after crushing the Thunder—without Tony Parker—early in March, though the Thunder may use this as motivation to win.
Both teams are overstocked with a surplus of stars—and with a No.1 seed potentially on the line, the stakes will be high when these two teams face off.
In the end, the Thunder will be more rested, and with the fans behind them, they should come out on top.
Prediction: Spurs 97, Thunder 102