The Spurs have just begun a 16-game stretch where they’ll spend most of their time (12 games) away from the AT&T Center, hoping that a return to full strength coincides with better luck on the road.
So far so good.
With a sloppy 93-91 win in Portland on Wednesday, the Spurs improved to 7-8 on the road, gutting things out over a Blazers team while playing without Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker. They’ll head into Salt Lake City to face a team that itself just took some licks away from home, losing all but one game on their six-game road trip.
Like the Spurs, the Jazz have started this season with a string of injuries to key players. Unlike the Spurs, they haven’t persevered quite as well. They’ll once again be shorthanded tonight, but that doesn’t mean this game will be easy — not against a well-coached team, on a SEGABABA, at four-thousand-something feet elevation to boot.
San Antonio Spurs (22-10) at Utah Jazz (14-18)
December 21, 2017 | 9:30 PM CT
Watch: TNT, CW35 | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs injuries: Kyle Anderson (knee), Danny Green (groin)
Jazz injuries: Rudy Gobert (knee), Dante Exum (shoulder), Derrick Favors (eye), Donovan Mitchell (toe), Raul Neto (concussion)
Slow Mo back in the mix
The Spurs are getting whole again, with the latest return being Kyle Anderson, who missed a few weeks due to an MCL strain. One of the brightest spots of the start to 2017-18 returns to his typical bench role, bolstering a bench that can begin to flex its muscles now that Pop can begin to find some consistency with his rotations. Look for San Antonio to get back to pulling away from teams at the ends of those first and third quarters, like we’re used to, over the coming weeks.
Leonard and Parker will be back, too
With neither starter cleared for back-to-backs yet, both Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker were held out of last night’s game in Portland in favor of tonight’s nationally televised tilt. Their returns should mean a better-lubricated offense going up against a short-handed, but still well-disciplined, Jazz defense.
Does Mitchell play?
The silver lining in the Jazz’s season would have to be their fleecing of the Denver Nuggets on draft night, sending Trey Lyles and the 24th pick for Donovan Mitchell, the 13th pick in the draft. Mitchell’s proven to be lightning in a bottle for the Jazz, a natural scorer who plays bigger than he is thanks to his bulk and 7’ wingspan, averaging nearly 18 points a game.
Donovan Mitchell spins and uses the soft touch!#TakeNote #NBARooks pic.twitter.com/gQJBmCZu6Q— NBA (@NBA) December 19, 2017
Mitchell missed last night’s game against the Thunder with a bruised toe, and the Spurs wouldn’t mind him sitting out another after trying to stay in front of the backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum 24 hours earlier.
Vegas odds: Spurs by 4.
Game prediction: Spurs by 6.
For the Jazz fan’s perspective, visit SLC Dunk.
As always, Tony must dominate Fisher.
PtR's GameThread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR's Twitter feed.