Though the western part of their road swing wasn’t very impressive, the San Antonio Spurs are refreshed and getting healthier as they head East looking to avoid their first road loss in a month.
As the Spurs’ annual rodeo road trip continues after a five-day break, they take road and overall winning streaks of six games into a matchup with the Toronto Raptors.
San Antonio, forced to play away from home for an extended period every season as the rodeo takes over its area, was able to get some rest after escaping with wins at Utah, Portland and Golden State. Those victories—all against teams currently under .500—were by an average of 5.3 points.
“We’re still searching, still trying to get to the level we were at last year,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, who gave his team the weekend off. “We’re not there yet, but they’re finding ways to win games.”
The rest of the road trip consists of five games in eight days against Eastern Conference teams, including a visit to New Jersey on Friday to face a Nets team which has won 11 straight at home.
With wins at Toronto and New Jersey, the Spurs would match the longest road winning streak in franchise history. They enter this game having won six straight on the road since losing at Phoenix on Jan. 7.
Though the team has won six in a row overall, San Antonio probably was in need of a break. Robert Horry (abdominal strain) and Nick Van Exel (elbow) both have missed the last three games, but Horry is expected to return Wednesday and Van Exel should be back before the road trip ends.
Tim Duncan, meanwhile, has been bothered by a foot injury. He’s been held below 20 points in seven of the last eight games, including 16 in an 89-86 victory over Golden State on Thursday in the Spurs’ most recent game.
“I’m predicting 50 points by Timmy in the next game,” said Tony Parker, who scored 23 points. “After the rest, he’s going to be on fire.”
One player Duncan could be going against is Antonio Davis, who is finally expected to make his return to the Raptors.
Acquired on Friday in a deal that sent Jalen Rose, a first-round pick and cash to the New York Knicks, Davis reluctantly reported to Toronto on Tuesday after speculation he would insist on being traded again or bought out of his contract.
“It’s not that bad,” said Davis, due $6 million in the final 34 games of this season. “I’m still doing something I love to do.
“If these are the last 34 games of my NBA career, I want them played as tough as I can.”
He should expect tough treatment from the Air Canada Centre crowd.
The 37-year-old forward played four seasons for Toronto before leaving on bad terms in 2003 when he demanded out, in part over concerns about the education his kids would get Canada. He was booed when he returned as visitor.
“They have a right to feel how they feel,” Davis said. “Even if I would have left on a good note, there is still going to be people who don’t like you, who don’t like what you stand for. I can’t worry about that.”
The Raptors had won three straight before losing 115-113 in overtime to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.
Chris Bosh led the Raptors with 29 points, 16 rebounds and six assists, but missed three jumpers in the final minute of overtime.
Toronto has lost six of the last seven meetings with the Spurs.