After five days off, the San Antonio Spurs (9-14) are playing basketball again tonight. The Spurs will be hosting the Cleveland Cavaliers (5-19) in the AT&T Center. After a rough stretch, San Antonio has won two straight and three of their previous four games. The Cavs, on the other hand, have lost eight straight games and 14 of 15.
To make matters more difficult for Cleveland, this is a second night of a back-to-back and their fourth game in six games. Not surprisingly, the Spurs are big favorites to win this game. Currently, oddsmakers have San Antonio as a 12-point favorite, with the Spurs beating the Cavs by a final score of 115-103.
Dejounte Murray Unleashed
Head coach Gregg Popovich has confirmed that Dejounte Murray no longer has a minutes restriction. After he played a season-high 32 minutes against the Sacramento Kings last game out, it was assumed that was the case. Pop recently made it official.
So far this season, Murray is averaging 9.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 22.6 minutes per game. Prior to the Kings game, Murray’s season-high in minutes played was 26 minutes against the Oklahoma City Thunder back on Nov. 7.
Keldon Johnson, Luka Samanic and Chimezie Metu Recalled
The Spurs have recalled Keldon Johnson, Luka Samanic and Chimezie Metu from the Austin Spurs. San Antonio now has 14 players eligible to play tonight, so that means that one will have to be listed as inactive. Most likely that will be Samanic, as he hasn’t played his first NBA minute yet.
Why did the Spurs recall all three players? It’s possible that someone is hurt or could be limited. But the more likely scenario is it was for camaraderie purposes. After tonight’s game, the Spurs are headed to Mexico City to face the Phoenix Suns on Saturday. It’s likely Pop sees the trip as a bonding experience.
Beyond that, Austin only has two games between now and Dec. 27, so those three wouldn’t be missing much even if they spend two weeks up with the NBA team.
Jakob Poeltl Back in the Starting Lineup?
The Cavaliers start Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love up front so Pop could decide to go with a bigger lineup. Rudy Gay has started the last four games but that streak may come to an end tonight, considering it’s questionable whether the Spurs will want him on Love to begin the game. If Gay sits, it’ll likely be Jakob Poeltl getting his eighth start of the season.
Spurs vs. Cavs – Prediction
The Spurs are well-rested and should be focused. The Cavs are tired, struggling and there’s talk of a mutiny. San Antonio should be able to win this one relatively easily.
San Antonio Spurs – 118
Cleveland Cavaliers – 102