Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Clippers – Game #17

The San Antonio Spurs will look to rediscover the winning track tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Spurs have lost their first three games in their five-game road trip. Overall, they’ve lost eight of their last nine contests to drop to 6-10 on the season. San Antonio’s only win during that stretch was a matchup against a short-handed Milwaukee Bucks who didn’t have the services of any of their top three players.

The Clippers enter this game with a record of 9-7. After losing four straight games, L.A. has rebounded by winning seven of their previous ten contests. Their most recent game was a 96-91 victory over the Detroit Pistons.

The Spurs and Clippers played a game earlier this season. San Antonio actually entered the contest with a better record but Los Angeles won the game by a final score of 113-106. The Clippers got 32 points from Paul George, while the Spurs were led by Devin Vassell’s 29 points.

San Antonio Spurs Injury Update

The biggest piece of injury news for the Spurs today is the fact that they’ll be without Devin Vassell due to an ankle injury. In San Antonio’s last game, Vassell led the way with 29 points against the Sacramento Kings, a contest that the Spurs lost 130-112 (see the Grades). Yesterday, Vassell was listed as questionable for the Clippers game but now he has been downgraded to out.

Yesterday, Jakob Poeltl was listed as questionable. Today, he’s still listed as questionable due to knee soreness. Poeltl hasn’t missed a game this season, which has been a very productive one according to SpursTalk’s recent Progress Report.

Three other players will miss the Clippers game tonight: Zach Collins (leg), Blake Wesley (knee) and Romeo Langford (COVID-19).

There was quiet a bit of good news on today’s injury report. Keldon Johnson, who missed the Kings game with an ankle injury, is available to play. Doug McDermott, who was sidelined with a calf injury, is also back along with Malaki Branham. The rookie had been out since spraining his ankle while playing for the Austin Spurs in the G League.

San Antonio Spurs Starting Lineup

We know that Tre Jones will start at point guard, Keldon Johnson will start at small forward and Jeremy Sochan will start at power forward. If Jakob Poeltl is able to play, he’ll start at center. If he can’t get, expect either Charles Bassey or Gorgui Dieng to start at center.

Who will start in place of Devin Vassell? It’s possible that head coach Gregg Popovich will just go big and insert Keita Bates-Diop into the starting lineup. If he does that, Sochan would essentially be shifted to shooting guard and Bates-Diop would slide in at power forward. If Popovich is looking for a shooting guard to start, don’t be surprised if Malaki Branham gets the call.

Kawhi Leonard’s Slow Road to Recovery

Kawhi Leonard played the first two games for the Clippers but then was sidelined with knee soreness for a long while as he continued to recover from ACL surgery. Leonard made his return in the Clippers last game against the Pistons. In that game, the former Spurs star had six points, five rebounds and four assists in 25 minutes, while hitting 2-of-8 field goal attempts from the floor.

Betting Guide: Spurs at Clippers

The Clippers are favored against the Spurs by nine points. The over/under this game is set at 221 points. The smartest bet tonight is taking the over. San Antonio has struggled defensively — particularly on this road trip. In the three games on the road, opponents are averaging 126.3 points per game. If Jakob Poeltl misses the game, the floodgates could open even wider for the Clippers.