In the Weekly Preview, we’ll take a look at the upcoming games for the San Antonio Spurs. This week, the Spurs play the Phoenix Suns on the road, the New Orleans Pelicans on the road, the Phoenix Suns at home and then the Toronto Raptors at home.
The San Antonio Spurs had some hiccups last week with an inexplicable loss to the Hawks (losing the season series 0-2) as well as a tough fourth quarter in Miami that doomed them in what was otherwise a winnable game. The Spurs managed to salvage a frustrating week with a hard-fought victory over the Miami Heat in the rematch at home. This week, the Spurs face a series of opponents who have all been on a roll lately.
San Antonio Spurs at Phoenix Suns
Monday, January 20, 8:00 PM CT
Last Meeting: Suns 119, Spurs 121
In a Western Conference playoff race that is heating up, the Phoenix Suns are nipping at the heels of the Spurs. The Suns are just percentage points behind San Antonio and a victory would have them leapfrog the Spurs for the ninth seed. The last contest between these two teams was a wild one, with the Spurs eking out an overtime victory in Mexico City. DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge and Dejounte Murray had 18 point each, but Patty Mills was the main hero with 26 points.
What is scary about this game is that the Spurs needed an overtime to beat the Suns last time … and that was without Devin Booker. Booker is top ten in the league in scoring at 26.5 points per game, and top twenty in assists with 6.4 per contest. To say that Booker has been on fire lately would be an understatement. He’s shooting a career-high in field goal percentage at 50.8%, and has been putting up 32 points per contest in his last ten games. The Spurs were lucky to escape with a victory last time, but this time they’ll need to be smart and really hone in on limiting Booker. The Suns are dealing with injuries: Frank Kaminsky is out while Aron Baynes and Kelly Oubre Jr. are game-time decisions. Booker might not have his usual help, so it is imperative that the Spurs prevent him from single-handedly winning this game, which he is more than capable of doing.
San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Pelicans
Wednesday, January 22, 8:30 PM CT
The Pelicans have been on an admirable run, going 4-2 in their last six games, including a victory over the Utah Jazz and a very narrow loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Pelicans are third in the league in three-point field goals at 14.1 makes per game, and also convert them at a high percentage of 36.8%, a top five figure in the league.
The big news heading into this game is the return of Zion Williamson. Williamson has missed most of the season with a knee injury that required surgery. Back in the preseason game against the Spurs, Williamson was wreaking havoc in the paint, scoring 22 points (8-for-11 shooting) and grabbing ten rebounds — all in just 22 minutes. With Williamson working the paint, the Spurs will also need to be careful not to get too sucked in, as the Pelicans three-point shooting could make for a long night. Seeing as how this game will now be televised on ESPN for Williamson’s season debut, expect the Pelicans to be amped and hungry.
San Antonio Spurs vs. Phoenix Suns
Friday, January 24, 7:30 PM CT
Last Meeting: Suns 119, Spurs 121
Much like their recent matchup with the Miami Heat, the Spurs will be playing the Phoenix Suns twice in just five days. This will be the final time these teams face off this season. The Spurs will be at home this time where they are 12-10, while the Suns are 9-10 on the road.
Deandre Ayton has only played 12 games this year due to a 25 game suspension for using a banned substance. Despite not playing very much, he has still managed an impressive 17.6 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. In their most recent victory over the Boston Celtics, Ayton punished them for 26 points and 15 rebounds. He also went a tidy 10-for-11 from the line. So any thoughts on a Hack-An-Ayton simply aren’t going to work.
As Ayton plays himself back into game shape, the Spurs will need to make him work on the other end. As he is fairly new to the league, Ayton has a habit of biting on pump fakes and averages nearly three fouls per game. If Aldridge can go to work and get Ayton into foul trouble, it would obviously help the Spurs chances. Seeing as how this is the final meeting of the season between two teams who are neck-and-neck for a playoff spot, the Spurs can’t afford to drop a home contest to such a close rival.
San Antonio Spurs vs. Toronto Raptors
Sunday, January 26, 3:00 PM CT
Last Meeting: Raptors 104, Spurs 105
A week ago the Spurs had a thrilling 18-point comeback against the Toronto Raptors. This time, the Raptors will be out for revenge. Marc Gasol has now returned from injury and Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell are rounding into form as they have recovered from their injuries. This will be the biggest test for the Spurs all week.
For all the hype the Raptors have with Kyle Lowry, Gasol and Siakam, it has been Powell who has helped them turn the corner while the team was missing key players. Powell is shooting a blistering 61.4% from the field, along with 48% from downtown. Last time he faced the Spurs, Powell hit 4-of-7 from three-point range and had 20 points in total. His athleticism was causing all kinds of issues.
OG Anunoby did a great job on DeRozan in the first half last time, as the Raptors were looking to trap him early and often. DeRozan attacked the rim and led the Spurs best fourth quarter performance of the season. Unfortunately, with Gasol back, the Spurs may find that the paint won’t have a red carpet this time around.
Th Spurs had some infuriating losses in the past week that nearly killed the good vibes they had built from their wins over the NBA’s elite. This week will be much tougher than last. The Grizzlies are playing their best ball of the season, so if the Spurs want to keep pace they’ll have to exceed expectations and show that they are serious about grabbing one of the final playoff spots. Going 2-2 would be a relatively successful week. If they can somehow sweep the season series from the defending NBA champs, then the Spurs would really get the momentum they need to get back on track.