In the Weekly Preview, we’ll take a look at the upcoming games for the San Antonio Spurs. This week, the Spurs play the Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks and Detroit Pistons.
The Spurs are coming off a week where they went 1-2. They were humbled by the Los Angeles Clippers and dropped a heartbreaker to the Houston Rockets. Their lone win came against the Brooklyn Nets. The Spurs have three games this week, with two of them on the road. San Antonio has yet to beat any of these teams this season.
San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies
Monday, December 23, 7:00 PM CT
Last Meeting: Grizzlies 113, Spurs 109
In their last matchup, the Grizzlies came to town and spoiled Tony Parker’s retirement ceremony. Jaren Jackson Jr. shot 10-for-17 en route to 24 points, while Jonas Valanciunas had a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds. The Spurs will be looking to return the favor against a Memphis squad that has gone 5-3 in their last eight games.
The Spurs have had a habit this season of digging themselves into an early hole, and that happened versus Memphis, as they needed multiple double-digit comebacks against the Grizzlies in the first meeting to keep it close. This game, San Antonio is just 3-9 on the road so they can’t afford to get into a big deficit early on. The Spurs completely fell apart in the second half against the Clippers, so you’d hope they come into this game with a little more sense of urgency.
The Spurs will need to have active hands as the Grizzlies like to move the ball to the tune of 26.9 assists per game. That gives them the third best mark in the league. They’ve also been getting contributions from a wide range of players, having five different leading scorers in their last eight contests.
Rookie sensation Ja Morant is going to be one to watch. He plays much better at home where he’s also shooting 43.2% from downtown as opposed to just 35% on the road. Morant had a nightmarish game in San Antonio, shooting a lousy 2-for-12, but he seems to be improving as the season wears on.
Recently, Morant had one of the best missed dunks of all-time. Seeing as how the Spurs gave up a record-setting 20 dunks against the Clippers, they’ll need to man the paint much better this time around. No Spur truly stood out in the first matchup, so it’s going to require a much better effort across the board if they want to get the job done in Memphis.
San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks
Thursday, December 26, 7:00 PM CT
Last Meeting: Mavericks 117, Spurs 110
The Spurs take on their intrastate rivals, the Dallas Mavericks, at American Airlines Arena. Similar to the Grizzlies game, the Spurs fell into a hole early in their previous game against the Mavs, clawed their way back late, and then fell apart in the final minute. NBA phenomenon Luka Doncic destroyed the Spurs for 42 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists. Fortunately for the Spurs, Doncic will most likely miss Thursday’s game with an ankle injury. Unfortunately for the Spurs, Kristaps Porzingis has had a double-double in five straight games.
Since Doncic has been injured, the Mavs went from the best offensive rating in the entire league to just middle of the pack, sitting at 16th. The Mavericks just a blew a 30-point third quarter lead to a depleted Raptors team, handing them their biggest comeback in franchise history. While the Mavs have improved slightly defensively (Doncic has been an average defender at best), it is clear that they are a completely different team without their franchise star.
DeMar DeRozan went off for 36 points in the last meeting with Dallas. He shot an incredibly efficient 14-for-20 to go along with a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line. LaMarcus Aldridge was also solid with a near double-double (16 points, nine rebounds). With Doncic out, the Spurs will have a much better chance to steal one on the road. They played the Mavericks very close (as it tends to go between these teams over the years), but a win in Dallas would go a long way in boosting the Spurs morale.
San Antonio Spurs vs. Detroit Pistons
Saturday, December 28, 7:30 PM CT
Last Meeting: Pistons 132, Spurs 98
Suffering one of their most surprising losses of the season, the Spurs got pummeled in Detroit the last time these two teams met. Granted, they were without Aldridge, but no one was expecting the Spurs worst margin of defeat of the season. As has often been the case this season, the Spurs came out completely listless in the third quarter despite keeping it close in the first half.
To say Andre Drummond is the best rebounder in the league would be an understatement. He has nearly 80 more rebounds on the year than second place Rudy Gobert. As the Spurs are a below average defensive team, they’ll need to limit any second-chance opportunities Detroit can get with offensive rebounding. As fantastic as Drummond is on the boards, the Pistons still ranks a measly 26th in overall rebounding. He simply isn’t getting enough help on the glass. If the Spurs can try keep a body on Drummond at all times, they should be able to mitigate the damage. Aldridge playing this time around should help keep Drummond busy on both ends of the floor.
Big man Christian Wood came out of nowhere to torch San Antonio for 28 points on 11-for-14 shooting. He is currently out with a knee injury, so that will be one less headache for the Spurs to deal with. The Pistons played perhaps their best game of the season in the last matchup. However, they have currently lost five of their last six contests and now sport an even worse record than the Spurs at 11-19.
Despite all the up-and-down play from the Spurs (and let’s be honest, it’s mostly been down) they refuse to die and remain just two games out of a final playoff spot. If the Spurs can manage to go 2-1 this week, which is feasible, they should be able to gain some momentum.