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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Golden State Warriors

After a three game losing streak on the road, the Spurs return home to try and reverse their fortune against the Warriors.

NBA: Playoffs-San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Returning home from three straight losses on the road, the Spurs look to get back over .500 against the defending champs tonight. The team seemed to find itself a little in their last game against the Clippers, competing with much more focus and intensity, despite the game falling on the 2nd night of a back to back. They’ll need to bring every last bit of that energy right from the tip to steal a win against the 12-5 Warriors.

November 18th, 2018 | 6:00 CT

Watch: FSSW, NBATV | Listen: WOAI

Spurs (7-7) vs. Warriors (12-5)

Spurs Injuries: Dejounte Murray (knee), Lonnie Walker IV (knee), Pau Gasol (foot), Davis Bertans (concussion protocol)

Warriors Injuries: Steph Curry (groin), DeMarcus Cousins (achilles)

The good guys

The Spurs have hit quite a rough patch after starting the season 6-2. They’ve gone 1-5 since, with a net rating of -5.8. Both the offense and defense have cratered during that time, after ever so briefly showing signs of potential during their 4-game win streak. That seems like a distant memory now.

Some of that has to do with additional injuries. The team has looked slow, unprepared, and out-classed in three of the four games Rudy Gay has missed while he continues to nurse lingering issues in his right heel. In Wednesday’s game he left early and headed to the locker room. He made it back out to the bench but didn’t play any more. Given how effective he’s been on the court, that could well mean he will continue to be limited.

As this game is the first of a back to back, it’s likely Pop will rest some players anyway. DeMar DeRozan continues to lead the league in minutes per game, so he’ll need a break at some point, but it’s hard to imagine the offense surviving an entire game without him, especially if Rudy isn’t available.

If Rudy’s out, that would typically mean more minutes for Davis Bertans, who’s been the team’s best shooter from deep, but he won't be available due to the NBA's concussion protocol. Instead, expect more of the three and four guard lineups the team has turned to at times to buoy the offense. That style of lineup has worked, to an extent, but at an obvious cost on the other end.

Derrick White’s return was supposed to provide some relief on that front, but he’s been generally ineffective so far. It’s not fair to lay that completely at his feet just yet, as he’s only played 5 games this season and the whole team has resembled nothing so much as a dumpster fire in that time. But White needs to play better, all the same. He’s got the 2nd lowest true shooting percentage on the team, at just 46.3% (only Chimezie Metu’s is worse) and is shooting 27.3% from three on just over 2 attempts per game.

DeRozan, on the other hand, has been amazing almost every night, filling up the stat sheet and putting up highlights with equal skill. As good as he’s been, he’ll need a lot of help to take down a team going for the three-peat.

The other guys

The Spurs aren’t the only team struggling with injuries. The Warriors have missed Curry over their last 4 games and played last night without Draymond Green due to a toe injury, while Alfonzo McKinnie was questionable with left foot soreness. Curry will be out for the duration of the team’s road trip, but it’s unclear whether Green or McKinnie will appear in tonight’s game.

With all that’s going on with the team, the Warriors are on a bit of a schneid themselves (for them), having lost 4 of their last 6 games, and may still be struggling with the fallout from an argument you’ve probably heard a little about. Not to say that a team with Kevin Durant on the court could ever be an easy out, but if the Spurs are going to get a win against the Warriors this year, this is probably the game to do it. Vegas has even installed the Spurs as tentative favorites as of Saturday afternoon. Okay, now knock on every piece of wood you own, and let us all pray the Warriors don’t read PtR.

Vegas odds: Spurs by 1.5

Game Prediction: Warriors by 5

For the Warriors fans’ perspective, visit Golden State of Mind.

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.