In the Weekly Preview, we’ll take a look at the upcoming games for the San Antonio Spurs. This week, the Spurs play the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Phoenix Suns
San Antonio Spurs vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Thursday, December 12th, 7:30 PM CT
After winning three out of their last four games, the San Antonio Spurs find themselves just a game and a half out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. While it is still early in the season, the fact that the Spurs are even within striking distance of the eighth seed despite dropping eight games in a row a few weeks ago is a miracle in itself.
The Spurs will look to build on their back-to-back victories over the Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings when they take on the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers at the AT&T Center on Thursday night. The Cavs languish near the bottom of the NBA with a 5-17 record and they are coming off a horrific 141-94 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. By the time Cleveland rolls into San Antonio, they’ll have played the Rockets the night before and then face the Spurs for their third game in four nights.
The Cavs have been struggling all season. They have lost 12 of their last 13 games, and a lot of their issues stem from their offense, where they are third from last in field goal percentage and assists. To make matters more volatile, Kevin Love appears to be on the trading block.
Cleveland’s leading scorer is second-year guard Collin Sexton at just 17.7 points per game. Without a leading scorer even crossing the twenty points per game mark, it’s easy to see why the Cavs are ranked 29th in scoring at 102.9 per game. Derrick White will be keeping tabs on Sexton, as well as the steadily improving Dejounte Murray from the bench.
Even though he has been playing like he has mentally checked out, Love is still someone the Spurs should be wary of in their next game. LaMarcus Aldridge will need to guard him all the way out to the perimeter and even further, as Love takes 5.8 threes per game. Love is committing a career-high 2.8 turnovers per contest so hopefully the Spurs can have those turnovers lead to easy transition buckets. The Cavaliers are one of the worst teams in the NBA, but the Spurs have a habit of playing down to their competition this season and have some inexplicable losses of their own. It is imperative that they don’t take their foot off the gas and put the Cavs away early.
San Antonio Spurs at Phoenix Suns
Saturday, December 14th, 4 PM CT
The Spurs go from facing one of the most offensively challenged teams in the league to one of the most formidable in the Phoenix Suns. Mostly a lottery team this decade, the Suns are deep in the hunt for a playoff spot. They have the fifth best scoring average at 115.5 points per game, and are second best in the league with 28.2 assists per contest. A majority of their scoring prowess comes from none other than Devin Booker.
Booker is one the bright young stars in this league, and he may be better than ever this season. He is shooting a career-best 51.2% from the floor, including a career-high 41.5% from three. He is a top ten scorer in the NBA at 25.5 points per game. His partner in the backcourt, Ricky Rubio, isn’t too shabby either, as he’s third in league in assists at 8.9 per contest. If there ever was a time for Gregg Popovich to speed up the process of playing Derrick White and Dejounte Murray together, it would be now.
No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton is still serving a 25-game suspension for using a banned substance. This should give both Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl an even bigger reason to have a field day in the paint.
The Suns have the sixth best offensive efficiency in the league but, like the Spurs, they are nothing to write home about defensively. If San Antonio can go into Phoenix (where the Suns are just 5-7) and play smart defense, they should be able to do enough on the offensive end to steal the win.
The Spurs have five days off before their next game so that should give them plenty of time to rest up in a lightly scheduled week. Taking care of business versus the Cavs and a win against the Suns in Phoenix would go a long way toward getting the Spurs to their goal of landing a coveted playoff spot.