The San Antonio Spurs made a flying start to their season with a victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, a sexy sleeper pick to contend for the Western Conference crown. Opening the season with a win is a positive against any opponent, but of even greater importance, the victory came within the division.
In 2010-2011, the Spurs finished with a 10-6 record against the Hornets, Grizzlies, Mavericks and Rockets, the top mark in the division, springing them to a Southwest Division title. In fact, every other division champion had the top in-division record as well. Clearly, taking care of business against your closest rivals is a recipe for success.
Division record will be of even greater importance in 2011-12. The NBA lockout resulted in 16 games being cut, though no divisional matchups were sacrificed. As a result, each team will play almost 25 percent of their games against their division opponents, as opposed to the normal 20 percent.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, after seeing the effects of fatigue on Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili in their first-round upset, rest his stars through quite a few games this year. However, San Antonio will undoubtedly be at full strength for their divisional matchups.
Here's a look at how San Antonio stacks up against their Southwest Division foes.