These days the weather here in San Antonio is cooler, and so are the Spurs. Losing three of the last four, some weaknesses of the Silver and Black have started to show. You can never count them out though, Derrick White’s return has perked up the starting line-up and added direction to the offense. After Monday’s loss in Sacramento, the Spurs look to redeem themselves against the Suns, the team with the worst record in the Western Conference.
November 14th, 2018 | 8:00 CT
Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI
Spurs Injuries: Dejounte Murray (knee), Lonnie Walker IV (knee), Pau Gasol (foot)
Suns Injuries: none
The Spurs have been hobbled by injuries so far and it has defined their first dozen games. Both All-Stars on the Spurs roster have been playing a lot of minutes, and consequently, the teamwork of DeMar DeRozan (37.1) and LaMarcus Aldridge (35.4) is improving. DeRozan has wasted no time making his presence known in San Antonio, but Aldridge might be the most important player on the team. When the Spurs have lost this year, Aldridge has scored 15 points or less. Opposing coaches use double-teams and and athletic bigs to try to force turnovers and bad shot selection for LMA.
With three key injuries to the backcourt before the season even started (Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Lonnie Walker IV), it is good to see White healthy and starting. Despite not scoring in his debut, he’s tallied 14 and 11 in the last two outings. His value isn’t just his scoring, his basketball IQ, passing acumen, and ability to keep cool under pressure highlight just how important White is to the Spurs.
Injuries to Rudy Gay, Pau Gasol, and Jakob Poeltl have also hindered the Spurs’ consistency and contributed to those 3 losses. The best possible outcome tonight would be an easy start to the road back-to-back, with extended minutes for bench players like Chimezie Metu and Quincy Pondexter, keeping the starters as fresh as possible for tomorrow night’s Clippers SEGABABA.
The Suns’ record has gone from (1-5) to (2-11) since the last meeting. Evan Fleischer wrote an excellent preview of that match-up that eloquently explained the transition into the NBA of Suns’ coach Igor Kokoškov’s offensive strategy. On their first trip to Phoenix, everything went well for the Silver & Black as they introduced Deandre Ayton to the NBA and came away with a 30 point victory.
Since the game two weeks ago, Devin Booker has returned to the Sun’s line-up. Spurs fans didn’t experience his brand of terror on Halloween. Although his presence should inspire the team, the 24.3 points per game he’s averaging aren’t enough to completely close the 30 point gap left from the last contest, and he’s also not a good defender.
Deandre Ayton is still finding his footing. The number one overall draft pick often gets into foul trouble, but he’s still a rookie. Aldridge tends to exploit the young guns, so this match up could be something for the Spurs to exploit.
The Spurs Hold On
But what they don’t understand is it’s the miles that make a man.
The Spurs are still finding their stride, and every time they start to find their rhythm, it seems that they have to change the lineup due to injury. A major strength of the Spurs over the last two decades is that they have quality starters and a bench that outplays the other team’s bench. While most franchises spend loads on one superstar and often don’t have quality backups, the Spurs maintain solid players from one to fifteen.
Bryn Forbes wasn’t slotted in the starting lineup before the season, but you wouldn’t know that by watching the first dozen games. He’s shooting .400 from beyond the arc and can drive to the basket and beat his man when he’s chased off the line. His 2-point percentage has improved this season. Defensively, Forbes is more active, creating havoc, causing steals, and is often seen leading the fast break.
Davis Bertans came off the bench in Sacramento and hit a 3-pointer immediately. At the end of the game he did it again knocking down two more threes within seconds of each other, hitting 3 of 4 from beyond the arc in less than 8 minutes.
Just like with Manu Ginobili, having age, wisdom, and corporate knowledge coming off the bench should be enough to overcome a young squad still wet behind the ears. For this road trip to be a success, tonight’s game needs to be a dominant performance from the good guys.
Vegas odds: Spurs by 6
Game Prediction: Spurs by 17
For the Suns fans’ perspective, visit Bright Side Of The Sun.
PtR’s Gamethread will be up this afternoon for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.