The road has been about as kind to the Spurs as Anthony Davis was to the Knicks’ Ron Baker last weekend. They’re 8-10 away from the AT&T Center, coming off one of their worst performances against a Detroit team missing four rotation players.
They roll into New York to face a team that’s also had better fortunes at home. Fifteen of the Knicks’ 18 wins this season have come at MSG, and there’s reason to think they’ll look better than they did in their loss in San Antonio on Thursday.
Unlike that game, the Spurs should have Kawhi Leonard in the lineup. They’ve been keeping their rehabilitating star out of both SEGABABAs and games that only have a day’s rest. The Klaw should be good to go and looking to build upon his highest minute total (27.5) against the Pistons.
Of course, Leonard’s appearances haven’t quite coincided with team success up until now. San Antonio is just 2-4 with him in the lineup and, combined with their struggles on the road, have a couple of statistical red flags for anyone wanting to put their hard-earned bitcoins on the Silver and Black tonight.
San Antonio Spurs (25-12) at New York Knicks (18-18)
January 2, 2018 | 6:30 pm CDT
Watch: FSSW; Listen: 1200 AM WOAI
Spurs injuries: Rudy Gay (heel)
Knicks injuries: Tim Hardaway Jr. (leg)
Last week, the Spurs made a point to go right at the Knicks 7’3’’ center, and it worked. Porzingis struggled to contend with LaMarcus Aldridge’s strength early, and eventually fouled out. Of course he also collected six blocks in the process, but anything San Antonio can do to minimize his aggressiveness as a rim protector and help defender is good.
The Spurs struggled staying in front of Doug McDermott in the first half of their first meeting, largely because of the different creative ways the Knicks employed to get him open. He had all nine of his points over a four-minute stretch in the second quarter, getting open in a variety of ways.
Spurs play the Knicks again tomorrow. One thing to keep an eye out for based on their last game: how San Antonio stays in front of Doug McDermott, who's crazy active off ball. pic.twitter.com/Iki7J8K4Vb— Bruno Passos (@bouncepassos) January 1, 2018
He also beat the Spurs backdoor when they overplayed his three-point shot:
And just like the Warriors like to do, the Knicks will also beat you backdoor if you overplay the initial screen pic.twitter.com/O5255HSSOd— Bruno Passos (@bouncepassos) January 1, 2018
Pop attributed part of his second-half success in the win over New York to “covering the Knicks’ movement” better, and McDermott definitely factors into that. We’ll see if they’re able to do so early on tonight. If they get beat early, it wouldn’t be surprising if it leads to a quick timeout.
Patty, Manu and Bryn, bad together
Out of every three-man group Pop has played together this season (minimum 100 minutes), the worst has been when he’s gone small and paired Patty Mills and Bryn Forbes in the backcourt with Manu Ginobili at the three. The trio has a minus-16.5 net rating in 128 minutes together, and looked particularly toothless against the Knicks, when Michael Beasley was at the three.
Vegas line: Spurs by 5.
Game prediction: Knicks by 5.
For the Knicks fan’s perspective, visit Posting and Toasting.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher.
As always, 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.