Weekly Preview: The Spurs to Face the Bulls, Jazz and Hornets

In the Weekly Preview, we’ll take a look at the upcoming games for the San Antonio Spurs. This week, the Spurs play the Chicago Bulls, Utah Jazz and Charlotte Hornets.

After an up and down week that saw the San Antonio Spurs go 2-2, the team will be hoping to bounce back after suffering consecutive losses. Both losses could have been prevented had the Spurs been a little sharper in the fourth quarter. The Spurs will play the second night of a back-to-back in Chicago tonight before having a pair of home games against the Utah Jazz and Charlotte Hornets.

San Antonio Spurs at Chicago Bulls
Monday, January 27, 7:00 PM CT

The Chicago Bulls have been showing signs of life lately. They have won four of their last seven games and find themselves in the ninth spot in the Eastern Conference. While they are still four games out of the eighth spot, their improved play has them closing the gap. This will be the first meeting between the two teams this season.

Zach LaVine is averaging 25.3 points per game while having a career year (Photo via USA Today)

Chicago have been dealing with injuries to Otto Porter Jr, Wendell Carter Jr and Daniel Gafford. To make up for their absences, Zach LaVine has been carrying this Bulls squad while averaging 25.3 points per game. He recently had an impressive 44 points and ten rebounds performance against the Cleveland Cavaliers. In his last ten games, LaVine has been averaging 30.7 points per contest on 49.5% shooting from the floor.

Devin Booker has a similar skillset to LaVine (but is the better player, if we are being honest) and the Spurs struggled mightily guarding Booker in the most recent game against the Suns. They’ll need to do a much better job against LaVine. The Spurs have sputtered on the road but will really need to key on limiting him. While the Bulls will be out a number of their big men, the Spurs will also be shorthanded with LaMarcus Aldridge out with a thumb injury.

San Antonio Spurs vs. Utah Jazz
Wednesday, January 29, 7:30 PM CT

The Spurs have their toughest game of the week when they host the Utah Jazz. The Jazz are having their best season in years. They have surprised everyone by being the second seed in the West right now. Utah has won a whopping 18 games out of their last 20. Granted, a majority of those have been against sub-.500 teams, but this team still makes for a formidable foe.

Utah has the best three-point shooting percentage in the league (38.7%) and they’re tied for sixth in defensive rating at 106.7. A Quin Snyder coached team being great defensively is no surprise but their improved shooting has been a welcome sight this season.

Rudy Gobert is an amazing defender but is also shooting 68.9 percent from floor (Photo via USA Today)

As good as their shooting is, Utah has done a great job of clamping down on teams. A lot of credit goes to the somehow still underrated Rudy Gobert. Gobert is having another DPOY caliber season. He is second in the league in rebounds at 14.5 per game and fourth best in blocked shots at 2.0 per game. On top of the stellar defense, Gobert has provided solid offense with the second best field goal percentage in the NBA at 68.9%. This is to go with his 15.7 points per game.

The Spurs struggled mightily at attacking the paint against the Raptors recently with Marc Gasol guarding the rim. Gobert is even more intimidating. The Spurs will need to make sure their shooting game is on point as Utah won’t allow much in the lane. This is the toughest opponent the Spurs have during this stretch and a home win here would be huge for the team’s morale.

San Antonio Spurs vs. Charlotte Hornets
Saturday, February 1, 8:00 PM CT

After a hard game against the Jazz, the Spurs close out their week with a struggling Charlotte Hornets team. The Hornets have lost eight in a row after having back-to-back wins against the Dallas Mavericks and Cleveland Cavaliers. The Hornets struggle largely come form their lack of shooting. They are ranked 27th in the league in field goal percentage at 43.4% and rank just 24th in offensive rating and 27th in defensive rating.

Devonte’ Graham has replaced Kemba Walker quite nicely for the Hornets (photo via Twitter)

As tough as this season has been for the Hornets, one of their few bright spots is Devonte’ Graham. Since Kemba Walker left in free agency to sign with the Boston Celtics, Graham has seen his minutes double this season. Some of his career-highs this year include points (18.6 per game) and assists (7.6). Seeing as how he’s still on a rookie contract, expect him to get a nice payday when his contract ends after next season.

Dejounte Murray will most likely be tasked with staying in front of Graham. Graham hits 38.7% from deep, so Murray will need to be aware of where Graham is on the court at all times.

The Spurs did manage to go 2-2 in a tough week but it was bittersweet with some of the fourth quarter meltdowns. San Antonio can’t afford to be giving away games, and with a very hard and lengthy rodeo road trip coming soon, the Spurs will need to kick their play up several notches if they want to remain in the playoff hunt. This week’s tune up before the hardest week of the season will be a good test to see how serious the Spurs are about advancing to the postseason.