The San Antonio Spurs continue to tumble down the standings as they are 0-3 to begin one of the most grueling Rodeo Road Trips of all time. Portland and the Los Angeles powerhouses were less than ideal opponents to face away from the comfort of the AT&T Center, but Sacramento might be their best chance to get back on track.
While the good guys needed overtime to dethrone the Kings in their last meeting, the northern California franchise finds itself shorthanded with several injuries. Marvin Bagley III remains sidelined, and the newly acquired Alex Len and Jabari Parker are questionable to suit up for this one.
Both organizations have enough talent to compete for the final Western Conference spot in the 2020 playoffs, though they find themselves closer to the 2020 lottery at the moment. This is a matchup between two astonishingly confusing wildcards, so buckle up and enjoy the ride.
San Antonio Spurs (22-29) versus Sacramento Kings (19-31)
February 8, 2020 | 9:00 PM CT
Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: None
Kings Injuries: Marvin Bagley III (Foot - Out), Richaun Holmes (Shoulder - GTD), Alex Len (Hip - GTD), Jabari Parker (Shoulder - GTD)
Slowing Down De’Aaron Fox
De’Aaron Fox might be the fastest player in the league, and to be quite honest, the runner-up wouldn’t make it an interesting footrace. The wiry point guard is a blur in the open court, and his ability to play above the rim makes him a threat to score on fastbreaks and in transition. Factor in Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield and San Antonio may be in for a long night.
The Spurs have struggled to contain elite athletes this season, but a combination of Dejounte Murray and Derrick White could help keep Fox contained. Although the pair of point guards have only played roughly 58 minutes together through 51 games, their 88.1 Defensive Rating suggests they could be a nightmare for opposing backcourts.
Sacramento forced an extra period with an increasingly inefficient Cory Joseph running the show in the first go-round, and third-stringer Yogi Ferrell torched the Silver and Black for 17 points in 23 minutes. De’Aaron will be healthy for round two, and that could spell trouble if the undersized Bryn Forbes get drawn into covering the lightning-quick floor general.
Building a Lead and Finishing the Job
The Spurs have lost 11 games in which they held at least a 10 point lead this year and come frighteningly close to adding a few more to their resume in some narrow victories. Their late-game execution leaves a lot to be desired, and there’s just something about the fourth quarter that seems to brings out the worst in San Antonio on most nights.
On several occasions, our guys have allowed lesser teams openings to crawl back into contests they had no business winning. This has resulted in embarrassing losses to the Hawks (twice), Cavaliers, Wizards, Pistons, Bulls, and Timberwolves (twice).
Remarkably, San Antonio has also pulled off a couple of surprising triumphs over the Bucks, Raptors, Celtics, Heat, Clippers, and Jazz. The Spurs have the talent to compete with anyone in the NBA, but if they can’t focus against the bottom feeders, then they’ll have to settle for joining them in the lottery this offseason.
Helping Out DeMar DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan has been a man on a mission this season, and he’s only turned up the intensity with each passing game. The four-time All-Star is averaging 26.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game on 57.8% shooting in the 24 games since December 21st.
Despite setting a new association record for guards and winning a Western Conference Player of the Week Award, the Silver and Black are a measly 11-13 over his ridiculous offensive outburst. To make matters worse, their 22-29 record thus far likely cost DeMar an All-Star nomination in the middle of perhaps the best season of his career.
It’s no coincidence the Spurs notched their third-straight loss of the Rodeo Road Trip on a night where DeRozan shot just 37.5% from the field. Though there is no doubt the eleven-year pro is All-Star material, it has become increasingly clear he can’t carry a team on his own, and that’s perfectly okay. Few competitors possess the superstar talent necessary to singlehandedly take over games on a nightly basis.
DeMar DeRozan has carried more than his fair share of the offensive burden, and while LaMarcus Aldridge is a solid second option, he has disappeared too many times to rely on this tandem. Other players must step on both ends if San Antonio hopes to keep their historic postseason streak alive.
For the Kings fans perspective, visit Sactown Royalty.
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.