Preview: Why Spurs Will Really Miss Dejounte Murray Against Blazers

When the San Antonio Spurs (5-7) play the Portland Trail Blazers (4-8) tonight in the AT&T Center, they will do so without the services of Dejounte Murray. The starting point guard will sit this evening as doctors haven’t yet cleared him to play in back-to-back games as he makes his way back from a torn ACL.

Without Murray, the Spurs will have their hands full with Damian Lillard. In their earlier matchup this season, Murray did fantastic work against Lillard, holding him to six points and two assists in 20 minutes on 2-for-11 shooting from the floor. 

When Murray went to the bench in that game, things got ugly fast. In the 19 minutes Lillard played without Murray on the court, he had 22 points and five assists on 7-for-17 shooting from the field. If the Spurs are going to win tonight and snap their four-game losing streak, they will need Derrick White to step up on the defensive end of the court and try to do a better job of slowing Lillard than he did the last time these two teams met.

Despite Portland’s slow start, Lillard is having an outstanding season. Through 12 games, he’s averaging 30.5 points, 6.9 assists and 4.8 rebounds on 48.2% shooting from the floor, 38.6% shooting from three-point range and 91.5% shooting at the line. He’s also averaging career-highs in steals (1.3) and blocks (0.7).

Will New Blazers Forward Carmelo Anthony Play Against the Spurs?

The Blazers, who have lost six of their last seven games, recently signed future Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony. However, Anthony will not suit up against the Spurs tonight. Considering the commotion adding Anthony to the rotation would potentially cause, this could either be good news or bad news for San Antonio.

Anthony has been away from the NBA for more than a year after the Houston Rockets released him in early November during the 2018-19 campaign. Anthony averaged 13.4 points for Houston last season but shot only 40.5% from the field and scouts panned his effort on the defensive end while with the Rockets.

Spurs and Blazers Tumble Down the Standings

At the start of the season, the Trail Blazers were considered a near lock to make the playoffs, especially after they made the Western Conference Finals last season. However, after a busy offseason and a few early season injuries, they suddenly look like a team that will probably go from WCF to lottery balls.

The Spurs, while many statistical models were low on them coming into the year, were generally considered a good bet to make the postseason. With a loss tonight, they could fall to the 12th seed in the West.