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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Golden State Warriors

The Silver and Black look to head into the new decade on the right foot.

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

A few weeks ago, the Spurs looked about ready to throw in the towel on one of their worst seasons in recent memory. However, San Antonio has breathed new life into their campaign, averaging a league-high 126.3 points per game over their last 3 contests.

The Silver and Black are 2-1, own the NBA’s top field goal percentage, three-point percentage, and point differential since December 23rd. Excluding the Dallas Mavericks, their competition hasn’t been top-notch, but holding the best offense (Points Per Possession) in the association to 102 points was an impressive accomplishment.

San Antonio manhandled the Grizzlies and Pistons, and a shorthanded Golden State squad is next up on the schedule. Although the last-place Warriors will be without Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the Spurs must show up prepared for a 48-minute battle.

The Dubs have won 4 of their last 5 outings, and they held foul magnet James Harden (12.3 FTA) to a singular free throw attempt in a well-rounded team victory on Christmas Day. Our guys need all the wins they can get before a rough two-week stretch featuring the Bucks, Celtics, Raptors, and Heat, and Tuesday night will be their best chance to tack on another victory.

San Antonio Spurs (13-18) versus Golden State Warriors (9-25)

December 31, 2019 | 6:00 PM CT

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

Spurs Injuries: None

Warriors Injuries: Stephen Curry (Hand - Out), Klay Thompson (Knee - Out), Eric Paschall (Hip - GTD), Kevon Looney (Abdomen - GTD), Omari Spellman (Illness - GTD)

Don’t Send the Dubs to the Foul Line

The 2019-2020 Warriors are a terrible basketball team, but there is one area where they excel on the court. Golden State trails only Portland in free throw percentage, and they’ve made the fourth most free throws in the league this season.

Part of the reason they were able to bring down the Rockets by a healthy margin less than a week ago is the 28 trips they took to the charity stripe. As you can probably guess, Golden State made Houston pay for getting into foul trouble, and they’ll do the same to San Antonio if given the opportunity.

Reining in the Role Players

Though conventional wisdom would have you believe bottling up D’Angelo Russell and Draymond Green is the key to victory, their All-Stars aren’t the players the Spurs should be worried about. Instead, San Antonio should focus their attention on limiting the trio of Alec Burks, Damion Lee, and Glenn Robinson III.

The Warriors are 4-8 when Draymond scores in double digits, and 3-7 when D’Angelo scores at least 25 points. Golden State’s stars are going to stuff the stat sheet no matter what you do, but they rarely win unless they get their role players in a rhythm.

Burks, Lee, and Robinson combine for just over 50 points per game when the Warriors win this season, so making them uncomfortable should bring smooth sailing for the good guys. If Silver and Black can’t keep the Dub’s triad in check, expect another close matchup with another bottom dweller.

Continue operating at a high level an take nothing for granted

The San Antonio Spurs have defeated as many playoff contenders as they have lost to lottery-bound deadbeats this season. Playing four quarters of consistent basketball hasn’t been one of their strong suits, and erratic effort and execution have defined their rocky start.

With that being said, Gregg Popovich has the Spurs operating at an astonishingly high level over the last week. DeMar DeRozan has been the most efficient two-guard in the league, LaMarcus Aldridge is willingly firing away (and hitting) from beyond the arc, and the young core continues to shine when presented with the proper minutes to do so.

It finally feels like San Antonio is ready to turn their season around, but that won’t happen unless they take advantage of the winnable games left on the calendar. While Tuesday night’s contest can be categorized as a winnable game, there is no such thing as a gimme in the NBA.

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

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.