The San Antonio Spurs return for Game 4 of their six-game home-stand, riding high on a three-game winning streak. Their opponent will be the Los Angeles Clippers, who after briefly grabbing the top record in the West have come back down to earth a bit, having lost three of their last four games.
San Antonio Spurs (14-14) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (17-10)
December 13, 2018 | 7:30 PM CT
Listen: WOAI | Watch: FSSW
Spurs injuries: Dejounte Murray (knee), Pau Gasol (foot)
Clippers injuries: Lou Williams (hamstring), Jerome Robinson (foot), Luc Mbah a Moute (knee)
The Home-stand of Revenge, Round 4
After a rough stretch of schedule that featured too many games and lots of travel crammed into just a few weeks, the Spurs are using their current six-game home-stand — the longest of the season — to get back on track. So far they’ve exacted revenge on three of the teams they lost to during their downward spiral from a 6-2 start to 11-14 to get back up to a .500 record, and tonight they will be looking for Round 4 of revenge against another team that handed them a tough loss: the L.A. Clippers.
Although their 111-116 loss to a surprisingly upstart Clippers team in Los Angeles was far from their worst outing during that horrid stretch, it was still one the players felt they could have won but let slip away. They will be looking to steal it back and return to a winning record tonight for the first time since November 18.
One of the side effects of all that travel was the lack of practices, giving the new-look Spurs less time to gel and make adjustments after losses. The extended time at home seems to be helping the team develop some cohesiveness with improved team play, better focus and communication on defense, and less dependency on just a few players to carry them. DeMar DeRozan hasn’t needed to be a hero during their current 3-game winning streak, both thanks to improved play from LaMarcus Aldridge and the bench, and as a result everyone is looking fresher. Hopefully that continues tonight.
The Spurs find a twin in the throw-back style Clippers
The Spurs aren’t the only team jacking up fewer threes and relying more on grit and team chemistry to get by. The star-less Clippers are also taking the same approach, with better early results. Sean Elliott will likely be filled with glee if we a get a throw-back, 90’s style, bruiser of a game. However, if the Clippers have one glaring weakness that wouldn’t match the best teams of the 90’s, it’s the lack of an inside presence.
Marcin Gortat has gotten all the starts at center but is on a downward trend for his career. Montrezl Harrell is having a nice breakout year, averaging 15 points and 7 rebounds backing him up, but other than that it’s been hit or miss over whether Doc Rivers plays everyone’s favorite Serbian giant Boban Marjanovic, and lately Danilo Gallinari has been getting the remaining center minutes in a small ball line-up to mixed results.
There are certainly some mismatches in there that the Spurs, particularly Aldridge, can exploit, so hopefully they continue to show improvement in their decision making and take advantage.
We want Boban!
Because I freaking love that guy and miss seeing him in a Spurs uniform everyday, so I just want a glimpse and to see the warm welcome he will receive when he enters the court again at the AT&T Center. I’ll always remember in his first return to the AT&T center after signing with the Pistons in 2016, the Spurs had the win in the bag, and the entire arena was chanting “We want Boban!” Unfortunately, Stan Van Gundy didn’t listen. It was so cruel, so hopefully Doc will be kinder to Spurs fans . . . after the Spurs have it won, of course.
Vegas line: Spurs by 2.5
Game prediction: Spurs by 5
For the Clippers fans’ perspective, visit Clips Nation.
As always, May The System be with you.
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.