Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Dallas Mavericks – Game #36

In a New Year’s Eve battle, the San Antonio Spurs take on Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks tonight in the AT&T Center. The Spurs enter the affair with a record of 12-23, while Doncic and the Mavs have a record of 20-16.

San Antonio is coming off of an impressive win over the New York Knicks on Thursday night. With Keldon Johnson leading the way with 30 points, the Spurs beat the Knicks by a final count of 122-115 (see the Grades).

Dallas has won five straight games. In that stretch, they’ve beaten the Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets twice. 

The Mavericks currently have the sixth best record in the Western Conference. The Spurs, on the other hand, have the second worst record in the West and the fourth worst record in the NBA. (Here’s a current look at the Spurs lottery odds.)

San Antonio Spurs Injury Update

Devin Vassell missed the game versus the Knicks and he’s doubtful tonight against the Mavs. The team’s starting shooting guard is dealing with knee sorness. 

Charles Bassey and Dominick Barlow will also miss tonight’s game due to being on a G League assignment with the Austin Spurs. Interestingly, though, Blake Wesley has been recalled to San Antonio. He may play his first NBA game tonight since he tore the MCL in his knee back in October.

San Antonio Spurs Starting Lineup

If Devin Vassell beats the odds and plays tonight, he’s likely to start. If not, the starting lineup will likely be the same one head coach Gregg Popovich used against the Knicks: Tre Jones at point guard, Romeo Langford at shooting guard, Keldon Johnson at small forward, Jeremy Sochan at power forward and Jakob Poeltl at center.

Langford responded tremendously well to getting the start versus New York. He scored a career-high 23 points and played strong defense.

Luka Doncic is Spectacularly Hot

To say Luka Doncic has played well recently would be the understatement of the year. In his last four games, the native of Slovenia is averaging 44.3 points, 12.5 rebounds and 10.5 assists, while shooting 59.2% from the field and 46.7% from the three-point line. In one of the most outrageous stat lines you’ll ever seen, Doncic recently had 60 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists against the Knicks. He also had an improbable bucket at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime.  

The Spurs will have their hands full trying to slow him down. Keldon Johnson or Jeremy Sochan will likely get first crack at him but expect the Spurs to use a handful of defenders on Doncic.

Betting Guide: Spurs vs. Mavericks

The Mavericks are favored by seven points and the over/under is at 231.5 points. Unfortunately for Spurs fans, putting money on San Antonio tonight looks to be unwise. With as great as Luka Doncic is currently playing, the smart bets are on the Mavs to win and cover the seven-point spread. The Spurs are likely to struggle against Doncic, especially if Vassell misses the game.