Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder – Game #34

The San Antonio Spurs take on the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight on the second night of a back-to-back. Last night, the Spurs defeated the Utah Jazz by a final count of 126-122 (see the Grades). San Antonio had three players score at least 20 points: Devin Vassell (24), Keldon Johnson (21) and Malaki Branham (20). The 20 points for Branham was a career-high for the rookie.

The Thunder have won three of their last four games. During that stretch, they defeated the Portland Trail Blazers twice and the Memphis Grizzlies once. While the Spurs will likely be tired tonight due to playing yesterday, the Thunder haven’t played since Dec. 23.

This will be the second time this season that the Spurs and the Thunder play each other. The first time, Oklahoma City won by a final score of 119-111. In that game, rookie Jalen Williams led the way for the Thunder with 27 points, six rebounds and two assists on 11-for-15 shooting from the floor, 2-of-3 from three-point land and 3-of-5 from the line, while the Spurs got 25 points from Vassell. San Antonio led for a majority of that game before collapsing in the fourth quarter.

San Antonio Spurs Injury Update

For the last two games, the Spurs had nobody out due to injuries. It looks like that Christmastime miracle may have come to an end. Tonight, the Spurs have two players who are listed as questionable.

Keldon Johnson is questionable due to lower back tightness and Doug McDermott is questionable due to right knee soreness. Both Johnson and McDermott have missed four games so far this season.

Also not available for the Spurs tonight are Blake Wesley and Dominick Barlow. Both players have been assigned to the Austin Spurs of the G League.

San Antonio Spurs Starting Lineup

If Keldon Johnson is able to play, expect him to start along with Tre Jones, Devin Vassell, Jeremy Sochan and Jakob Poeltl. If Johnson doesn’t play, the leading candidates to fill his spot in the starting lineup are Josh Richardson, Keita Bates-Diop and Stanley Johnson. Richardson didn’t play against the Jazz, so he should be extra rested tonight.

If Doug McDermott misses the game, expect the Spurs to lean even more on rookie Malaki Branham for bench scoring. Lately, he has been outstanding. In his last five contests, Branham is averaging 12.8 points in only 21.2 minutes per game. During that five-game stretch, the rookie is shooting 71.4% from the floor, 56.3% from three-point range and he has hit all five of his free throws.

Betting Guide: Spurs at Thunder

The Thunder are favored by seven points tonight and the over/under is at 236.5 points. Even though the Spurs are coming off of a win, the smart money is on the Thunder to win tonight and cover the seven-point spread.

Why does Oklahoma City have an advantage? First of all, the Spurs are playing on the second night of a back-to-back, while the Thunder have had three days to rest. Secondly, with Keldon Johnson and Doug McDermott questionable, the Spurs could be without a lot of their offensive firepower.