Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Portland Trail Blazers – Game #14

The San Antonio Spurs (7-6) take on the Portland Trail Blazers (8-5) in an early game on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Both teams have been playing well lately. The Spurs have won five of their last seven contests, while the Blazers have won five of six.

The last time San Antonio was on the road, they were able to go 4-1 on a five-game road trip. On the season, the Spurs are better on the road (5-2) than they are at home (2-4). The same holds true for the Blazers, who are 4-3 at home and 4-2 on the road. Obviously, due to COVID-19 restrictions in each city, NBA teams no longer have much of a homecourt advantage.

San Antonio Spurs Injury Update

The Spurs have three players missing due to health reasons. Drew Eubanks, who hasn’t played since January 3rd, is still out due to COVID-19 protocols. He’s expected back in the next week or so. Keita Bates-Diop and Luka Samanic are both sick. The former has an upper respiratory infection, while the latter has a sore throat.

In addition to those three players, the Spurs have two players out due to injuries: Derrick White (fractured second toe on his left food) and Quinndary Weatherspoon (recovering from knee surgery).

Portland Trail Blazers Injury Update

The Blazers have had some unfortunate injury news lately. Jusuf Nurkic broke his right wrist recently and will miss several weeks. In Portland’s last game, CJ McCollum sprained his left foot and he’s out at least for today’s game. McCollum is off to the best start of his career. In 13 games, he’s averaging 26.7 points and 5.0 assists, while shooting 47.3% from the field, 44.1% on three-pointers and 84.4% at the line.

Zach Collins (ankle) will also miss the game against the Spurs.

Spurs at Blazers – How the Spurs Can Win

With McCollum and Nurkic out, San Antonio’s defense can focus on Damian Lillard. The 30-year-old superstar point guard is having another excellent season, posting averages of 27.6 points, 6.8 assists and 4.8 rebounds on 44.1% shooting from the floor, 37.4% shooting from three-point range and 93.9% shooting from the free throw line.

Most likely, Dejounte Murray will begin the game as the Spurs main defender on Lillard. Also expect Lonnie Walker IV and even rookie Devin Vassell to spend time on Lillard. So far this season, San Antonio’s strategy against star players is to constantly mix things up. Unless Murray is having a lot of success, that will likely continue.

If the Spurs can stop Lillard from exploding, that would give them a chance to notch another road win.