Spurs schedule 2013: Can the Heat, Thunder and Rockets push San Antonio?

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs might be nearing the end of their dominance with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili aging, and during the 2013-14 season they'll be fighting to put off passing the torch among the NBA elite.

The San Antonio Spurs keep avoiding the inevitable. Seemingly over the hill, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili helped them advance to the NBA Finals last season to keep a dynasty alive, but after falling in dramatic fashion to the Miami Heat, the vulnerabilities -- and sense that the end is near -- became the storyline.

Can San Antonio compete with the NBA's elite in 2013-14? Games against the Heat, Rockets, Thunder, Pacers and Grizzlies will tell the tale.

Five games to watch

Nov. 22 at Memphis -- The Spurs' stiffest Western Conference opponent from last postseason will play them twice early on in 2013-14 with the second meeting being aired on ESPN. More than three weeks into the season, the Grizzlies will give San Antonio a better sense of what first-year head coach Dave Joerger's squad will look like than their first encounter, which opens the two teams' schedules.

Dec. 25 vs. Rockets -- It's a Texas thing, but it's also a battle between the established and the new kids on the block. Dwight Howard, James Harden and the Rockets visit San Antonio hoping to make a statement against an aging Spurs team on Christmas.

Jan. 22 vs. Thunder -- When talking Western Conference favorites, the Thunder and the Spurs are the two safest choices. That's because fans and analysts know what to expect from each team -- whereas the Clippers, Grizzlies, Rockets and Warriors all have significant changes from a year ago.

Jan. 26 at Miami -- A rematch of the NBA Finals goes down this Sunday afternoon on ABC, and there's not a whole lot that has changed for either team since the playoffs. San Antonio's roster is nearly identical, and the Heat of course won't deviate from a plan after winning two titles in a row.

March 31 at Indiana -- Maybe it's not made for TV entertainment, but a Spurs-Pacers meeting means a night in heaven for basketball purists. It might not be pretty, but it'll be a game with unquestioned effort, smart players across the board and two winning cultures built in small media markets.

Tough tests

San Antonio plays the Nets on New Year's Eve and then has outings against the Knicks, Clippers, Grizzlies and Mavericks.

Another tough stretch comes just before the rodeo road trip. From Jan. 22 to Jan. 29, the Spurs play Oklahoma City, Atlanta, Miami, Houston and Chicago.

And from March 26 through April 10, the Spurs face a difficult stretch run starting with two games against the Nuggets before matchups with New Orleans, Indiana, Golden State, Oklahoma City, Memphis and Dallas.

Easiest stretches

Could a nine-game road trip be San Antonio's most successful part of its schedule? The annual road trip -- the longest in the NBA -- caused by the rodeo booting the Spurs from the AT&T Center has actually been a marker of success in the last few years. In 2011-12, San Antonio went 8-1 and last season it only lost two of the nine games.

The Spurs have tough games against Brooklyn and the Los Angeles Clippers on the 2014 rodeo tour, which spans Feb. 3 through Feb. 21, but they fill out the schedule against the Pelicans, Wizards, Bobcats, Pistons, Celtics, Blazers and Suns.

Important schedule facts

Back-to-backs: 19

Season opener: Oct. 30 at home vs. Grizzlies

Longest road trip: Nine games (Feb. 3-21)

Longest homestand: Four games (Dec. 29-Jan. 4, Jan. 15-22)

2013-14 schedule

OCTOBER
Memphis Wednesday, October 30 2013 8:30 PM EDT coverage
NOVEMBER
@ Los Angeles Lakers Friday, November 01 2013 10:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Portland Saturday, November 02 2013 10:00 PM EDT coverage
@ Denver Tuesday, November 05 2013 9:00 PM EST coverage
Phoenix Wednesday, November 06 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
Golden State Friday, November 08 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ New York Sunday, November 10 2013 12:00 PM EST coverage
@ Philadelphia Monday, November 11 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Washington Wednesday, November 13 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ Utah Friday, November 15 2013 9:00 PM EST coverage
Boston Wednesday, November 20 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ Memphis Friday, November 22 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
Cleveland Saturday, November 23 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
New Orleans Monday, November 25 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ Oklahoma City Wednesday, November 27 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
@ Orlando Friday, November 29 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Houston Saturday, November 30 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
DECEMBER
Atlanta Monday, December 02 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ Minnesota Wednesday, December 04 2013 9:30 PM EST coverage
Indiana Saturday, December 07 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ Toronto Tuesday, December 10 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
@ Milwaukee Wednesday, December 11 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
Minnesota Friday, December 13 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ Utah Saturday, December 14 2013 9:00 PM EST coverage
@ Los Angeles Clippers Monday, December 16 2013 10:30 PM EST coverage
@ Phoenix Wednesday, December 18 2013 9:00 PM EST coverage
@ Golden State Thursday, December 19 2013 10:30 PM EST coverage
Oklahoma City Saturday, December 21 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
Toronto Monday, December 23 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
Houston Wednesday, December 25 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
@ Dallas Thursday, December 26 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
Sacramento Sunday, December 29 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Brooklyn Tuesday, December 31 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
JANUARY
New York Thursday, January 02 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
Los Angeles Clippers Saturday, January 04 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ Memphis Tuesday, January 07 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
Dallas Wednesday, January 08 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Minnesota Sunday, January 12 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
@ New Orleans Monday, January 13 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
Utah Wednesday, January 15 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
Portland Friday, January 17 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
Milwaukee Sunday, January 19 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Oklahoma City Wednesday, January 22 2014 9:30 PM EST coverage
@ Atlanta Friday, January 24 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Miami Sunday, January 26 2014 1:00 PM EST coverage
@ Houston Tuesday, January 28 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
Chicago Wednesday, January 29 2014 9:30 PM EST coverage
FEBRUARY
Sacramento Saturday, February 01 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ New Orleans Monday, February 03 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
@ Washington Wednesday, February 05 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
@ Brooklyn Thursday, February 06 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
@ Charlotte Saturday, February 08 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
@ Detroit Monday, February 10 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Boston Wednesday, February 12 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday, February 18 2014 10:30 PM EST coverage
@ Portland Wednesday, February 19 2014 10:00 PM EST coverage
@ Phoenix Friday, February 21 2014 9:00 PM EST coverage
Detroit Wednesday, February 26 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
Charlotte Friday, February 28 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
MARCH
Dallas Sunday, March 02 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
@ Cleveland Tuesday, March 04 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Miami Thursday, March 06 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
Orlando Saturday, March 08 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ Chicago Tuesday, March 11 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
Portland Wednesday, March 12 2014 9:30 PM EDT coverage
Los Angeles Lakers Friday, March 14 2014 8:30 PM EDT coverage
Utah Sunday, March 16 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
@ Los Angeles Lakers Wednesday, March 19 2014 10:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Sacramento Friday, March 21 2014 10:00 PM EDT coverage
@ Golden State Saturday, March 22 2014 10:30 PM EDT coverage
Philadelphia Monday, March 24 2014 8:30 PM EDT coverage
Denver Wednesday, March 26 2014 8:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Denver Friday, March 28 2014 9:00 PM EDT coverage
New Orleans Saturday, March 29 2014 8:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Indiana Monday, March 31 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
APRIL
Golden State Wednesday, April 02 2014 8:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Oklahoma City Thursday, April 03 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
Memphis Sunday, April 06 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
@ Dallas Thursday, April 10 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
Phoenix Friday, April 11 2014 8:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Houston Monday, April 14 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
Los Angeles Lakers Wednesday, April 16 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
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