The Spurs, after going 2-2 in their first four games in the Orlando NBA restart, find themselves still very much in the race to grab that final playoff spot out West. Those two losses came one after the other at the hands of the 76ers and the Nuggets, two teams that were able to exploit San Antonio’s lack of size, depth, and talent on the inside, and while their opponent this afternoon, the Utah Jazz, have Rudy Gobert manning the paint, they play a line-up that is sort of similar to San Antonio’s. The Spurs hold a 2-0 season series edge over Utah, with one win coming at home and another on the road near the end of the Rodeo Road Trip.
With just 4 seeding games remaining, the Spurs need every bit of help they can get. With the Pelicans and Kings both going 1-3 so far and Memphis at 0-4, the opportunity to make a playoff push is there. The most important help they can get, though, is from themselves by coming away with some more wins over the final 4 games of the “regular” season.
San Antonio Spurs (29-38) vs. Utah Jazz (43-25)
August 7, 2020 | 12:00 PM CT
Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: LaMarcus Aldridge (Shoulder - Out), Trey Lyles (Appendix - Out), Bryn Forbes (Quad - Out), Marco Belinelli (Foot - Day-to-Day)
Jazz Injuries: Bojan Bogdanovic (OUT), Nigel Williams-Goss (ankle - QUESTIONABLE)
What to watch for
- These Spurs have been fun to watch, but there’s obviously work to be done still. With coach Gregg Popovich fully embracing the youth movement, we’ve finally been able to see the young guys get more playing time and show what they can do, giving us a glimpse into the future of this team. They’re giving up a lot of points since coming to Orlando (132 in each of their last two games, both losses), but the potential for an effective, switch-heavy defense is there. They continue to show promise on the offensive end as well, with rookie Keldon Johnson scoring a career-high 20 points in the loss to Denver, while Derrick White has scored at least 20 points in 3 of the 4 games played so far. There will obviously be growing pains, but we are starting to see the plans of a team that has drafted pretty well over the last few years come to fruition
- After acquiring Mike Conley in the offseason, the Jazz looked to be trying to put themselves in win-now mode. However, early season struggles and some injuries greatly limited Conley’s impact on Utah, and thus, their title chances. While Utah has gone 2-2 in their first 4 games in Orlando, Conley has played pretty well, averaging 19 points a game to go along with nearly 6 assists as well. Conley’s improved play next to All Star Donovan Mitchell gives Utah as formidable a backcourt as any out West.
- Utah and San Antonio run out very similar starting line-ups, featuring a big and 4 perimeter players. They both also are using under-sized players at the 4 spot (DeMar DeRozan for San Antonio and Joe Ingles for Utah), another reminder about how the league has changed, even in just the last 6 years since the Spurs won 62 games and their 5th championship starting 2 bigs.
Games to watch on the scoreboard
For the Jazz fans’ perspective, visit SLC Dunk.
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.