Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Minnesota Timberwovles – Game #5

After a shockingly easy victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night (see the Grades), the San Antonio Spurs improved their record to 3-1 on the season. San Antonio’s campaign started with a blowout loss to the Charlotte Hornets but the team has now won three straight games. Tonight, the Spurs will look to improve their winning streak to four games when they again take on the Timberwolves.

In Monday’s game, which the Spurs won by a final score of 115-106, Devin Vassell led the way with 23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in 33 minutes. Keldon Johnson chipped in 18 points, while Jakob Poeltl had 14 points and 14 rebounds. The Spurs led by as many as 35 points before Minnesota rallied in the fourth to make the final score more respectable.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 27 points, 11 rebounds and five assists for the Timberwolves, who dropped to 2-2 with the loss. D’Angelo Russell finished with 25 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Following tonight’s contest, the Spurs and Timberwolves play for a third time in a week when they meet in San Antonio on Sunday. 

San Antonio Spurs Injury Update

Things will be a lot different tonight for the Spurs because they will be without Devin Vassell, who was clearly the best player for the Spurs on Monday. Vassell will miss the game due to knee soreness. There’s no word yet regarding how much time Vassell will miss due to the knee injury. The hope, so far, is that he will be able to return soon.

Four games into the season and it looks like Vassell is making the jump that he and the team hoped he would make. In 32.5 minutes per game, Vassell is averaging 19.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.3 steals. He has also kept his mistakes to a minimum, with averages of 1.3 fouls and 1.0 turnovers. 

After a forgettable 3-for-15 shooting night in the regular season opener, Vassell has recovered nicely. On the season, he’s shooting 40.9% from the field, 39.4% from three-point land and 75.0% at the free throw line.

San Antonio Spurs Starting Lineup

Due to Vassell’s absence, the Spurs starting lineup will be forced to change for the first time this season. We know four of the starters: Tre Jones at point guard, Keldon Johnson at small forward, Jeremy Sochan at power forward and Jakob Poeltl at center.

Who will start in place of Vassell? The most likely candidate is Josh Richardson. Richardson started games in the preseason and currently serves as the team’s backup shooting guard behind Vassell. The other possibility is Joshua Primo, who has spent time next to Tre Jones and seems to be head coach Gregg Popovich’s sixth man.

Betting Guide: Spurs at Timberwolves

This time around, the Spurs are an even bigger underdog against the Timberwolves than they were on Monday night. That makes sense, though, because San Antonio will be without Vassell.

Currently, Minnesota is favored by nine points and the over/under is set at 234.5. The smart money tonight is on the Timberwolves to cover the nine-point spread. It’s difficult for any squad to beat the same team twice. The fact that Vassell is out will make that even more of a daunting task for this young Spurs team.