Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Cleveland Cavaliers – Game #38

The San Antonio Spurs continue their five-game Eastern Conference road trip tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Spurs lost their first game of the trip but followed that up with two straight wins, including an exciting victory over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.

The Spurs (21-16) remain locked in the seventh seed in the Western Conference. The Cavaliers (15-25) are tied for 12th in the East. While San Antonio has won two straight, Cleveland has lost four out of their last five games. However, they’re coming off of an impressive 117-110 victory over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.

DeMar DeRozan Returns for the Spurs

After missing four games due to his father’s funeral, DeMar DeRozan is back. San Antonio’s leading scorer is averaging 20.3 points to go along with 7.3 assists and 4.7 rebounds, while shooting 49.0% from the floor, 32.1% from three-point territory and 88.2% at the free throw line.

The Spurs were 3-1 without DeRozan. Expect him to start in place of Lonnie Walker IV. The five starters would then be DeRozan along with Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Keldon Johnson and Jakob Poeltl.

San Antonio Spurs Injury Update

There’s only one player still out for the Spurs: Keita Bates-Diop. The two-way player injured his hamstring against the Philadelphia 76ers in the first game of this road trip. The Spurs haven’t given any definitive update on Bates-Diop, however the injury appeared to be serious enough to keep him out for at least a couple of weeks.

The Importance of This Game for the Spurs

Getting a win tonight is important for the Spurs. To make the playoffs, they obviously need to take advantage of games against lesser opponents. More than that, though, is the fact that the Spurs play the Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow night. Not only is that contest on the second night of a back-to-back, it will be San Antonio’s fifth game in seven nights.

If the Spurs lose tonight, they’d face the very real possibility of heading back to South Texas with a two-game losing streak.

Collin Sexton is the Cavaliers Best Hope

Collin Sexton has emerged as an elite scorer in his third year in the NBA. The 22-year-old is averaging 23.7 points and 4.3 assists per game, while shooting 47.7% from the floor, 37.7% on three-pointers and 81.2% at the line. In the Cavaliers win over the Celtics on Wednesday, Sexton had 29 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

Expect Murray and White to spend the majority of time defending Sexton. Off the bench, Patty Mills could also see some minutes defending him.