It’s fitting the Spurs kick off their annual vision quest against a team that’s embraced a narrative called #TheTimeline, which is as rose-tinted and open-ended as Philadelphia’s The Process, except with substantially less upside. Realistic or not, it’s the type of paradigm shift that allows a perennially frustrated fanbase to trade the uncertainty of today for the Pollyanna-like promise of tomorrow.
This isn’t a shot at the Suns (well maybe it’s that, too) so much as a way to frame this year’s Rodeo Road Trip as another step into the unknown for a team that’s been, historically, among sports’ greatest known commodities. Suddenly a deep playoff run is at least a healthy quad away, and even the eternal 50-win season streak could legitimately be in jeopardy. It’s enough to send less stable Spurs fans into their own dubious narratives as a means of coping. But not us, right?
San Antonio Spurs (34-21) at Phoenix Suns (18-37)
February 7, 2018 | 9:30 pm CDT
Watch: ESPN, FSSW; Listen: 1200 AM WOAI
Spurs injuries: Rudy Gay (heel), Kawhi Leonard (injury management)
Suns injuries: Devin Booker (hip), Isaiah Canaan (leg), Brandon Knight (knee), Alan Williams (knee)
Getting the RRT started on the right foot
The Spurs’ relatively short Rodeo Road Trip begins tonight, with three more games slated before the All-Star break. It’s anyone guess how the team performs in what is typically a catalyzing stretch of games, but a depleted Suns team with the league’s worst defensive rating should offer as good an opportunity as any to begin the trip on a high note.
Where does Phoenix get points from if Booker sits?
If you’re the Suns and have tonight penciled in as a loss (not that you necessarily should, given the Spurs’ recent play), there should be no reason to rush your 21-year-old franchise cornerstone back after suffering a hip pointer injury against the Hornets over the weekend. Booker sat out Tuesday night’s game against LA and Phoenix, predictably, struggled to score. Gifted wing T.J. Warren can be expected to get his 20-plus, but he’ll need a second teammate to get hot if the Suns are to have a chance.
Who starts at center for SA?
Davis Bertans got the nod over Pau Gasol against the Jazz, which may have been a matchup call or it may have been a taste of things to come. As with most things this season, we’ll just have to wait and see — but against a team that rarely plays two traditional bigs, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Latvian get a second straight start.
Does the three-point shooting continue to trend upward?
After seemingly weeks of ice-cold shooting from deep, the Spurs have shot 36% over their last four games. Compared to last season’s 39.1%, that’d be a cold spell, but it’s right at this team’s season average and markedly better some of the nights we saw in the middle of January.
Vegas line: Spurs by 8.
Game prediction: Spurs by 12.
For the Suns fans’ perspective, visit Bright Side of the Sun.
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.