In the Weekly Preview, we’ll take a look at the upcoming games for the San Antonio Spurs and what the opposition will bring to the table this week.
San Antonio Spurs at Atlanta Hawks
Tuesday, November 5, 6:30 PM CT
The Hawks had a fine start to the season picking up a pair of wins over the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic before losing three straight. Their most recent losses were to the Philadelphia 76ers followed by back-to-back losses against the Miami Heat.
While Hawks finds themselves below .500, they must be thrilled with the type of season Trae Young has had so far. Prior to his injury, Young had been averaging a whopping 26.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game. What is even more impressive is that Young is the only player who is amongst the top 30 scoring leaders with 50/50/80 splits.
While Young was injured recently against Miami, his most recent practice had his ankle feeling good and Hawks officials expect him to suit up against the Spurs. That news doesn’t bode well for San Antonio as the Hawks with Young versus without him play like two completely different teams. Atlanta’s offensive rating with Young is 112.2, but then plummets all the way down to 94.5 when he doesn’t suit up.
What should be enticing for San Antonio coming off a game where the Lakers length really bothered them is that the Hawks are fairly undersized at nearly every position. This should hopefully allow for the Spurs to have a much easier time getting their shots off and use their size advantage with players like LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay. Atlanta is also in the bottom five for three-point shooting, as well as the second worst free throw shooting team in the league.
The Spurs will need to be careful with the ball as the Hawks love to play the passing lanes and San Antonio has had their share of issues in limiting their own turnovers. Atlanta does a great job of taking care of the ball, but San Antonio should be able to hurt them on the boards and get plenty of second-chance opportunities. While the Hawks will be energized with the return of Young, the Spurs will look to right the ship in their third road game of the season.
San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Thursday, November 7, 7:30 PM CT
The Thunder were blindsided this offseason when Paul George requested an immediate trade to the Los Angeles Clippers, which in turn had them offloading Russell Westbrook to Houston in exchange for Chris Paul. They have started the season 2-4 coming off a win against the New Orleans Pelicans before taking on Orlando on Tuesday.
While OKC has struggled coming out of the gates, they are still a pesky team to deal with thanks to being a top three defensive team in the league, along with being fantastic on the boards. Steven Adams is getting close to a return from injury. His presence in the paint and on the glass is always a pain for the opposition.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is one of the more promising young players in the league who can light it up in a hurry. Featuring a silky smooth stroke and a quick release, both White and Murray should have their hands full trying to contain him in the backcourt.
Paul has historically been a thorn in the Spurs’ sides, and while he is now an elder statesman, he is still an assist machine who can get the offense going. He may not be what he was during his heyday, but the Spurs will still be wary of his ability to make plays and get his team going.
This game will be a tough, physical battle. While OKC doesn’t have the star power it used to possess, the team’s defensive prowess could cause issues for our boys in the silver and black. This game marks the beginning of a three-game homestand for the Spurs, so they would certainly like to get off to a strong start.
San Antonio Spurs vs. Boston Celtics
Saturday, November 9, 4 PM CT
In what has to be the most exciting matchup of the week, the red-hot Boston Celtics come to town, most likely carrying a six-game winning streak by the time they get to San Antonio. Losing Kyrie Irving in free agency hasn’t slowed them down. Boston has had a pair of impressive wins over the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks, with their lone loss coming against the Sixers. The Celtics also have had several players get off to fantastic starts, with fresh acquisition Kemba Walker playing well (26.2 points per game) and Jayson Tatum bouncing back from a sophomore slump (22.0 points per game), along with Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown both averaging double figures.
However, Boston has been fairly weak up front after losing Al Horford to the Sixers and losing Enes Kanter to injury. With that in mind, the Celtics should have a tough time keeping Aldridge in check. The Celtics also rank as one of the weaker teams in assists per game (22nd in the league) and the surprising lack of ball movement has really hurt them. Celtics coach Brad Stevens preached about not letting the ball stick in training camp but the team has yet to get that memo.
Boston also has a weak bench, which should allow the Spurs’ second unit to wreak some havoc. The Celtics bench averages a league-worst 24 points per game, while their starters are asked to do a majority of the heavy lifting. The Spurs, on the flipside, have had solid bench production so far with the 7th highest scoring bench in the NBA. Despite all this, Boston does have eleven players averaging double figures, so the Spurs will need to be weary of holding everyone accountable defensively.
After a pair of losses against both elite teams from LA, look for the Spurs to make an early-season statement against Boston in what should be a thrilling game.