After a quick 1-2 road-trip the San Antonio Spurs have limped their way back to the AT&T Center having lost their last two contests in starkly different yet equally crushing fashions. It’s unlikely that the next several games will offer much of a respite though, with San Antonio’s starting big men still out until further notice, and a number of tough opponents after a diet of teams like the Hornets, Nets, and Cavs.
First up will be the newly regrouped team of longtime rivals in the Dallas Mavericks, once again featuring a transcendent European superstar in Luka Doncic. Having gone 0-3 against the Mavericks this season, the Silver and Black will be looking to desperately avoid being swept by their in-state foes while trying to snap their own two game losing streak.
The good news is that all three of the aforementioned losses have been close, as none of the victories have come by more than seven points. The bad news is the Spurs had a fully functional big man rotation for all three of those contests, and now must rely on the likes of Trey Lyles, Drew Eubanks, and a small ball Rudy Gay to contain Doncic and an almost match-up-proof big man unicorn in Kristaps Porzingis.
It’s always hard to know exactly what will happen in a rivalry series, particularly one with such a rich history, but it’s not looking good for the Spurs right now, especially after their currently flaws were so effectively exploited and exposed by an equally inconsistent Nets squad. In all honestly this game is probably going to feel a bit like having to see your newly engaged ex right after waking up in a dumpster the morning after Saint Patrick’s Day.
If there’s one things that might swing the contest in San Antonio’s favor, it’s that the Mavericks appear to be even more banged up than they are, with as many as six players looking to be out for the game. Frankly, there’s just a lot more hope than analytic favor to be given here, but hey, crazier things have happened. Go, Spurs, Go!
Dallas Mavericks (39-26) at San Antonio Spurs (26-36)
March 10, 2020 | 7:00 PM CT
Watch: TNT | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Jakob Poeltl (Out - MCL Strain), LaMarcus Aldridge (Out - Shoulder) Marco Bellinelli (Day-to-Day - Illness), Lonnie Walker IV (Day-to-Day - Lower Leg)
Dallas Injuries: Dwight Powell (Out - Achilles), Jalen Brunson (Out - Shoulder), Seth Curry (Out - Ankle), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Out - Illness), Willie Cauley-Stein (Out - Illness), Dorian Finney-Smith (Questionable - Hip)
What to watch for:
Playing Time For The Young Guns: By this point you’re aware that Lyles and Eubanks have been getting the chance to show what they’ve got in extended NBA Minutes, but rookies Keldon Johnson, Luka Samanic, and Quinndary Weatherspoon have also made appearances, with Johnson in particular benefiting from Marco Belinelli’s absence, having received at least 17 minutes on the court in both of San Antonio’s last games. It would be great to see tall Luka get on the court in this one for the Luka vs. Luka memes if nothing else, but with postseason hopes all but terminated by this point, it’s a good stretch for both the organization and the fans to see what the future might hold.
Dejounte Murray and Derrick White: Somehow forgotten in all the recent young player hubbub has been the combined performances of San Antonio’s presumed guards of the future. And while the front-court has been a bit of a mess, White and Murray have risen to the occasion with more consistent performances and have even been able to bolster San Antonio’s perimeter defense with stretches in which both players shared the court. Many of us have assumed that that would be the case if they were allowed some extended run together, and necessity seems to have forced they very thing we’ve long hoped for. The Spurs are having a rough stretch to be sure, but this is the sort of thing that makes watching every game worth it.
Update: Shortly after I wrote this, The Spurs announced that Dejounte has suffered a calf strain and will be out for a while, so it now it looks stupid. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
For the Maverick’ fans’ perspective, visit Mavs Moneyball.
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.