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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Utah Jazz

The Spurs close out a 3-game home stand against the Jazz before heading out on a 5-game, 3-city road trip.

NBA: Utah Jazz at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

This year’s Spurs have played as well as could be expected to this point, with a handful of surprises sprinkled in as well. With more opportunities to show what they’re capable of, the young guys have really stepped it up, while the vets have added a few wrinkles to their own games to shake things up and compliment the youth much better than they have in years past. The loss of LaMarcus Aldridge has left them a bit thin as far as bigs are concerned, but the return of Derrick White so quickly from a toe injury that originally threatened to have him out for much longer has been a huge sigh of relief.

Tonight’s game against the Utah Jazz is the last home game before San Antonio embarks on a 5-game road trip that will see them away from the AT&T Center for a 10-day period. With back to back games coming up against both Los Angeles teams, the Spurs could use a win tonight to shake up the 3-game losing streak that they’re currently on, as well as they’ve played.

San Antonio Spurs (2-3) vs. Utah Jazz (3-2)

January 3, 2021 | 6:00 PM CT

Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: LaMarcus Aldridge (knee — questionable), Quindary Weatherspoon (knee — out), Derrick White (toe — out)

Jazz Injuries: None

What to watch for

  • Dejounte Murray is currently finishing 73% of his shots in the restricted area, a ridiculous number that, were it to stand, would be 16% points above league average (57%). This has played a big part in his scoring average being what it is (17.8 points a game) with the 3-ball not yet starting to fall with the consistency that Murray surely would like to see (just 25% so far). Tonight’s game, with former 2x DPOY Rudy Gobert guarding the paint, will be another great test for the young guard.
  • The Utah backcourt couldn’t be more Jekyll and Hyde to start the season, with Mike Conley off to a fiery start and Donovan Mitchell going in the opposite direction to begin the year. Conley, who is shooting 45% from 3 on 8 attempts a game, is coming off a 33 point performance in a win over the Clippers that saw him sink 7-14 from beyond the arc. Mitchell, meanwhile, is averaging 20 points a game, but is shooting just 35% overall and just under 30% from 3, numbers that are way off his career averages. A player as good as Mitchell will eventually get it going as the season goes on, but hopefully he will have to wait for another night.
  • The Jazz, anchored by Gobert in the middle, are the best rebounding team through the first 5 games of the season. Utah is pulling in 50 boards a game, including 12 offensive rebounds. While San Antonio hopes to have LaMarcus Aldridge back from a bout with knee soreness to help Jakob Poeltl deal with Gobert’s 13 rebounds per game, they will still need the gang-rebounding approach that had them in the last game against the Lakers until the final quarter.
  • Derrick White played just 22 minutes in his season debut against the Lakers, looking pretty much like his usual self. Unfortunately, he reportedly suffered a toe sprain on the same foot that had surgery and will be out for this one. His absence may mean more of Devin Vassell, who was the odd man out when White returned, receiving his first DNP against the Lakers.

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.