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Game Preview: Washington Wizards vs. San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs celebrate Hispanic Heritage Night, as well as play host to Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards.

NBA: New York Knicks at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs kicked off the season Wednesday night with a game that featured something for everyone. The return and spectacular play on both sides of the court (in just 23 minutes) of Dejounte Murray garnered plenty of the headlines, but he was aided with contributions from the entire team, including four players in double figures and two more that came within 1-2 points of the double figure mark as well. The thrill and suspense of the 4th quarter comeback against the Knicks sent everyone home happy, but not without some concern about their play at various times throughout the game.

The season is so young, though, that you could almost excuse things like the 21 turnovers they coughed up or veteran guard DeMar DeRozan going just 3 for 10 from the field. Luckily for San Antonio, they start the year with a 3-game home-stand, with 2 of them coming against teams that missed the playoffs last season. That is a luxury for a team with so many new parts that still need to be integrated into this unit and get acquainted with one another. Tonight, they take on a Wizards team that is a bit banged up to start the season, but still features newly-extended All Star combo guard Bradley Beal.

Washington Wizards (0-1) vs San Antonio Spurs (1-0)

October 26, 2019 | 7:30 PM CT

Watch: KENS 5, | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs injuries: None

Wizards injuries: Ian Mahinmi (Achilles — OUT), Jordan McRae (thumb fracture — OUT), Troy Brown (ankle — day to day), C.J. Miles (foot — day to day), Isaiah Thomas (thumb — OUT), John Wall (Achilles — OUT)

We have tickets!

It’s Hispanic Heritage Night at the AT&T Center and PtR has a sweet deal for you! Fan’s can get tickets here. They include a ticket to the game, a pregame “Court-side Experience Pass,” which allows you one hour early access to sit courtside and watch both teams warm up, a food voucher, and the Loteria cards that were used to depict the Spurs’ schedule for this season.

If you missed the link at the top and want to buy tickets, click here!

What to watch for

  • Get DeMar DeRozan some easy touches - DeMar DeRozan’s season got off to the worst start one could have. He finished the first half 0/3 from the field, 1/4 from the charity stripe, and had more turnovers (3) than rebounds (2), assists (1), and points (1). While the 2nd half was a bit better and he did end up 7/11 at the FT line to help him get to 13 points, he still had a subpar game, especially on offense when we know what his standards are. His FG attempts to start the game were, for the most part, jumpers that he had to work himself into. The motion offense the Spurs run is full of dribble hand-offs, off-ball screens, and backdoor cuts that do their best to get players easy looks. Taking advantage of a few easy buckets early in a game could help a player get some rhythm and confidence going, something DeRozan could definitely benefit from.
  • Is Trey Lyles the Spurs’ new starting power forward/center? - In my preview for the Knicks game, I speculated that Gregg Popovich would either decide to go with last year’s starting big combination that included LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl or by swapping Poeltl for this summer’s back-up plan to Marcus Morris, Trey Lyles. Lyles started the final 3 preseason games and is a career 33% shooter from beyond the arc, with two seasons shooting 38%. As good as Poeltl has shown he is, the threat of Lyles at least attempting shots from 3 opens up the court for a starting line-up that is starved of outside shooting.
  • Contain Bradley Beal - Beal, who was just recently extended by Washington, is a do-it-all guard on offense. He can score at all 3 levels and can also run your offense for you at the point. Without a doubt the best chance the Spurs have of covering the -12 spread that is out at the time of this writing is to limit his touches and contest everything he wants to put up. In an article by Andy Bailey that focused on Win/Loss predictions following the release of the NBA schedule for Bleacher Report, Baily alluded to the magnitude of what Beal would be undertaking with the Wizards this season:

With John Wall hurt and Otto Porter Jr. gone, Bradley Beal could put up some remarkable numbers to start the 2019-20 season. But don’t be surprised to see some minutes in which he looks like he’s taking on the world. His supporting cast does little to inspire right now.

Expect Pop to keep one of Dejounte Murray or Derrick White out on the floor whenever Beal is in the game to corral the head of the snake.

  • Clean up the turnovers - Training camp isn’t what it used to be, and while we as fans will most likely cut the Spurs SOME slack for the 21 turnovers they committed against the Knicks, Gregg Popovich surely will not. I’d bet money that the first thing he told them in the locker room after that game was how sloppy they were. As I laid out earlier, the season is so young that it was nothing to be overly concerned about, but they should be making a conscious effort to clean up what played a big part in making their win over what is expected to be a lowly Knicks squad harder than it had to be.

If we were betting on the over/under for turnovers this game with the line being 15, I would take the under.

Fun Fact

The Spurs are 20-3 against the Wizards going back to the 07/08 season, including wins in both of their match-ups last season.

Vegas Line: Spurs (-12), O/U 218

Prediction: Spurs by 10

For the Wizard’s perspective, please visit Bullets Forever.

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 if you don’t have a radio around.