Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Boston Celtics – Game #40

On a quick turnaround, the San Antonio Spurs face the Boston Celtics tonight in the AT&T Center. The Spurs beat the Detroit Pistons by a final score of 121-109, with Tre Jones leading the way with 25 points (see the Grades). That game started at 7pm Central. Tonight’s back-to-back game against the Celtics starts at 5pm Central — so this back-to-back will be even more difficult than a standard back-to-back.

Even without the short amount of rest, facing the Celtics is a daunting proposition. At 27-12, Boston has the best record in the NBA. They’re one game up on both the Denver Nuggets and Brooklyn Nets, who are both 26-13.

After getting demolished by the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Celtics bounced back in their latest game with a 124-95 victory in Dallas against the Mavericks. Jayson Tatum led the way for the Celtics with 29 points, 14 rebounds and ten assists, while Mavs superstar Luka Doncic was held to 23 points, nine rebounds and three assists.

Prior to San Antonio’s win over the Pistons, the Spurs had lost three straight games. At 13-26, they have the fourth worst record in the league and the second worst record in the Western Conference.

San Antonio Spurs Injury Update

Devin Vassell will soon undergo arthroscopic knee surgery, so he’s obviously sidelined for tonight’s game against the Celtics. Keldon Johnson is likely to join Vassell on the sidelines. Johnson left the Pistons win at halftime due to a hamstring injury. Considering the quick turnaround, it’d be surprising to see Johnson in uniform.

Josh Richardson was questionable prior to the Pistons game but he was able to play.

San Antonio Spurs Starting Lineup

We can confidently state that head coach Gregg Popovich will start Jakob Poeltl at center, Jeremy Sochan at power forward and Tre Jones at point guard. It also looks like Romeo Langford will continue to start at shooting guard for as long as Devin Vassell is out due to his upcoming knee surgery.

Who will start in place of Keldon Johnson if he indeed is out due to a hamstring injury? That’s a lot more difficult to say. Popovich could go with another Johnson and start Stanley Johnson. Keita Bates-Diop has started ten games this season, so he could get the nod. Isaiah Roby and Josh Richardson are two other options.

The Spurs and Celtics Trade

If you blinked recently, you might have missed the trade between the Spurs and the Celtics. The Celtics traded Noah Vonleh and $1.5 million in cash to the Spurs in exchange for a heavily protected second round pick. To complete the deal, the Spurs waived Gorgui Dieng. Shortly after acquiring Vonleh, the Spurs waived him too.

Here’s more on why San Antonio made this trade. It basically came down to money and a roster spot.

Betting Guide: Spurs vs. Celtics

The Celtics are favored by 12.5 points and the over/under is 235 points. Given the quick turnaround and their key injuries, the smart money is betting against the Spurs tonight. Pick the Celtics to win and to cover the 12.5-point spread.