Preview and Prediction: San Antonio Spurs vs. Atlanta Hawks

After going 2-2 on a difficult four-game road trip, the San Antonio Spurs (17-22) will try to keep their momentum tonight against the Atlanta Hawks (9-32). Only the Golden State Warriors (9-33) have a worse record than the Hawks. The Warriors are also the only team that has a worse road record than Atlanta, who is 4-18 on the road.

The Spurs are 11-9 at home and have quietly won three straight games in the AT&T Center. San Antonio is currently the ninth seed in the Western Conference, one game behind the Memphis Grizzlies. The Hawks are at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, 1.5 games behind the New York Knicks.

San Antonio Spurs Injury Update: Rudy Gay Out

Rudy Gay is out tonight for the Spurs. The Spurs haven’t yet disclosed why he’s missing the game, only to call it an injury or illness. On the season, Gay is averaging 10.7 points and 5.8 rebounds, while shooting 44.8% from the field, 33.1% from three-point land and 84.7% at the free throw line.

How will the Spurs fill Gay’s 22.5 minutes per game? DeMarre Carroll could get some minutes. Trey Lyles could play more minutes. It’s even possible that head coach Gregg Popovich will go small and will play both Lonnie Walker IV and Marco Belinelli off the bench at the forward spots.

Keldon Johnson, Luka Samanic and Chimezie Metu Recalled

With Gay out, San Antonio has brought up reinforcements from the Austin Spurs. Rookies Keldon Johnson and Luka Samanic have been recalled, as has second-year player Chimezie Metu. 

Austin doesn’t play again until Jan. 21, so these three can stay in San Antonio for a few days, be around the team and not miss any G League action. 

Of the three, Johnson is playing the best in Austin. In 29.8 minutes per game, he’s averaging 20.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists on 54.4% shooting from the field.

Spurs vs. Hawks – Key Matchup

The last time these two teams met, the Hawks stunned the Spurs. Playing at home, Atlanta won the game 108-100, with Trae Young doing most of the damage. Young finished that game with 29 points and 13 assists in only 30 minutes of action.

Tonight, the Spurs need to do a much better job on him. Dejounte Murray will be the first one to get a crack at Young. Off the bench, Derrick White will also see minutes on the second-year star. It’ll be difficult, though, as Young averages 29.1 points, 8.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds.

Prediction: Spurs vs. Hawks

Oddsmakers see the Spurs winning this game 119-111. While the Hawks certainly aren’t a powerhouse team, San Antonio hasn’t been good at dealing with the lesser teams in the league. I’ll predict a Spurs win but I think it’ll be closer than expected.

San Antonio Spurs – 120
Atlanta Hawks – 116