With big men LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Joel Embiid, and Nerlens Noel all watching from the sidelines due to injuries, Thursday night’s matchup between the Spurs and 76ers showcased each team’s respective depth at the frontcourt. Coach Gregg Popovich inserted newcomers Davis Bertans and Dewayne Dedmon into the starting lineup for the Spurs, who each responded with double figures in San Antonio’s 102-86 win.
“I think I’m getting more comfortable and other players are getting more comfortable with me on the court,” Bertans told reporters after the game. “They’re finding me in some really good spots for good offensive opportunities. Everybody’s doing a great job and that helps me a lot.”
The victory marked Popovich’s 1,127th win with the Spurs, tying the NBA record for most coaching wins with a single franchise. Popovich will have an opportunity to overtake Utah Jazz icon Jerry Sloan for sole possession of the record on Saturday night in San Antonio, when the Spurs host the Denver Nuggets, before embarking on the 14th edition of the rodeo rode trip.
The Spurs’ February journey tips off on Monday night in Memphis against Marc Gasol and the Grizzlies, followed by a rematch against the 76ers in Philly. After a showdown in Detroit with former Spurs Aron Baynes and Boban Marjanovic, San Antonio faces a back-to-back versus the Knicks and the Pacers. A stop in Orlando precedes a trek out West where the Spurs will battle the Lakers and Clippers in Los Angeles.
In previous campaigns, the annual basketball expedition has served as a chemistry-building gauntlet for Popovich and his squad. San Antonio’s only losing record on a rodeo road trip came in 2015, during the franchise’s fifth title defending season. A glance at the schedule suggests the Spurs are poised for a streak, despite nagging injuries to key personnel.