Preview and Prediction: San Antonio Spurs vs. Dallas Mavericks

The San Antonio Spurs (24-32) are back home after completing the 2020 Rodeo Road Trip with a record of 2-6. In their return to the AT&T Center, the Spurs will play the Dallas Mavericks (35-23).

The Mavs are currently the seventh seed in the Western Conference. However, they are within three and a half games of the third seed and five games of the second seed, so Dallas has a chance to move up the standings if they finish the season strong.

Over their last 16 games, the Mavericks are only 8-8 as they’ve dealt with various injuries, including to up-and-coming superstar Luka Doncic.

LaMarcus Aldridge Injury Update – Out versus Mavs

Due to a shoulder injury, LaMarcus Aldridge is out for at least tonight’s game. The Spurs haven’t released information regarding how many games Aldridge is expected to miss. The good news is that the team is calling the injury “soreness,” so hopefully that means he won’t be sidelined for long.

The 34-year-old big man is averaging 18.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 33.0 minutes per game this season. This will be the fifth game that Aldridge has missed this season due to injury.

Luka Samanic Spurs Debut? Rookie Called Up

In a bit of a surprising move, the Spurs have elected to call up Luka Samanic from Austin. Why is it surprising? Samanic hasn’t played at all in the NBA this season season despite being the 19th pick of the 2019 draft. Instead of going with the young Croatian, San Antonio has leaned on Chimezie Metu and Drew Eubanks when they’ve been in need of an extra big on the active roster.

In Austin, Samanic is averaging 15.3 points and 7.7 rebounds on 43.8% shooting from the field and 31.5% shooting from beyond the three-point line. While he has had his moments, he hasn’t been nearly as good in Austin as San Antonio’s other first round pick, Keldon Johnson. Johnson is really developing well by all accounts.

Jakob Poeltl in the Starting Lineup for the Spurs

With Aldridge out due to injury, Jakob Poeltl will get the start at center. The Austrian has played well in the four games that Aldridge has missed this season, averaging 8.5 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.5 blocks in 31.5 minutes per game.

Behind Poeltl, the Spurs could opt to go small and play a combination of Trey Lyles and Rudy Gay at center. Head coach Gregg Popovich could also opt to turn to Samanic and give the rookie his first minutes of the season.

Prediction: Spurs vs. Mavericks

Oddsmakers have the Mavs as five-point favorites tonight against a shorthanded Spurs squad. Considering that the Mavs should have their main players available and considering that Dallas is 19-9 on the road, it’s not surprising that they are the favorites. However, I will predict that the Spurs will show up and play better than expected in their first game back after the Rodeo Road Trip.

San Antonio Spurs – 120
Dallas Mavericks – 118