The San Antonio Spurs pulled out a win last night against the Denver Nuggets with a late showing of defense on the last play.
It was a much needed win with the next few opponents coming up.
While some may view the schedule as unfair, the Spurs and head coach Gregg Popovich view it in a different way. In fact, their view of it is pretty positive.
"The schedule that we have is something that should be embraced and considered a great opportunity; because it's like taking a final exam every day or most days," said Popovich. "To get ready for playoffs, understanding the physicality, aggressiveness and competiveness that's necessary night after night in the playoffs."
It seems he's embracing the schedule that was given to him and his team.
There's no real reason why Pop should be upset since he has the mentality of the best team will always win. When the Spurs win, they win humbly. When they lose, they do it the same way but always give the "better team" their due.
If the team drops to the second seed, it will be harder but they've done it before from the second seed in 2005 and were third in 2007.
The determination this team has in them has been shown from recent games where they've struggled. The Spurs now have more role players than from championship teams before, but the young Spurs have not shown to be rattled this season. While homecourt is important, it hasn't proved to be much of a factor as San Antonio has had it in the Western Conference and still struggled with it.
The team and its fans are hoping for a different outcome this season and Tim Duncan sees this stretch as something of a preview to the playoffs.
"It's a good measuring stick. That's what we'll use it as. It's going to be a tough game every night," Duncan explained. "It's going to be a good to focus on every night. It's going to be playoff atmosphere and playoff intensity."
Duncan sounds like the playoffs are starting now than in a few weeks and he's been the only Spur who's consistently been playing like that.
The Spurs have a stretch remaining against the Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, and Memphis Grizzlies. It's likely that if San Antonio were to hoist up the Larry O'Brien trophy in June, they'll have to go through those teams along with Oklahoma City in the process to do it.
Whether the Spurs win or lose these games isn't really important right now, but how they play overall against them will be key. The "measuring stick" Duncan may be referencing is how they matchup against them and what improvements they can make before then. The team has seemed sluggish for the past few weeks and it may be because they can't wait for the playoffs to start.
If the Spurs can win games while struggling, they'll be a tough out in the playoffs against any team that's pitted against them. We'll find out what this team is made of against their upcoming opponents or as Duncan called called it, "the measuring stick."