Back to back wins in the City of Angels not only helped to snap a 3-game skid for the Silver and Black, it also got them out to a 2-0 start on a 5-game road trip and 3-1 overall on the road. Winning on the road is hard in the NBA (even without a crowd), but San Antonio will have a chance to build on that road record even more over the next two games while they’re posted up in Minneapolis for a weekend series against a Minnesota Timberwolves team that is 2-6 on the year, has lost 6 in a row, and has been without 2x All Star big man Karl-Anthony Towns for all 6 of those losses. All but one of those losses have been by at least 15 points, including a 21-point loss to the 2-6 Washington Wizards without Russell Westbrook
The Spur have a chance to set the tone for their entire weekend stay in the Twin Cities if they take care of business tonight
San Antonio Spurs (4-4) at Minnesota Timberwolves (2-6)
January 9, 2021 | 7:00 PM CT
Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Derrick White (Out - Fractured Toe), Quindarry Weatherspoon (Out- Knee)
Timberwolves Injuries: Karl-Anthony Towns (wrist - OUT), Josh Okogie (hamstring -OUT)
What to watch for
- LaMarcus Aldridge has had a quiet start to the year as he’s dealt with knee soreness and, most importantly, a Spurs team that is without a doubt changing around him. Aldridge missed all of the restart in Orlando after having surgery on his right shoulder in April and wasn’t part of the change in play style that occurred while San Antonio was competing for a playoff spot, so its only fair to expect that it will take some time for the veteran big man to find his place in the offense. His 28 point performance against the Lakers could be a sign that he’s on his way.
- Keldon Johnson struggled with his shot in Los Angeles for both of the Spurs’ wins, going just 6/21 overall and scoring 14 total points. The 2nd year forward out of Kentucky still played 30 minutes in each game though and was on the court in the closing moments of the close win against the Clippers, a further sign of the coaching staff’s trust in the young man’s abilities even when his shot isn’t falling.
- The Timberwolves are next-to-last in 3 point percentage (31%), but the Spurs have allowed opponents to hit nearly 41% of their looks from distance. The key to minimizing that damage so far has been limiting 3 point opportunities for the opponent. Opponents are attempting just 32 3s a game against Gregg Popovich’s club, good for 7th in the league through this initial stretch of the 2020-2021 season and a staggering 12 less attempts than 1st place New Orleans.
- D’Angelo Russell is always capable of going off for a big scoring game. Averaging 20 points a game on 45% shooting from the field and 41% from 3, Russell is coming off games with 26 points and 33 points against the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets, respectfully. That being said, his scoring prowess is largely based on him hitting his shots that he takes, as he has never been a guy that gets to the line 5-7 times a game (3.3 FTA for the season, 2.9 for his career), a stat that typically is associated with the likes of scoring champions and elite scorers. The match-up between him and San Antonio’s young wing defenders will be an exciting one to watch.
Vegas Lines: Spurs -6.5, O/U 230.5
For the opponents’ perspective, please visit Canis Hoopus.
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.