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Preaseason Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets

The San Antonio Spurs close out their 2021 preseason slate against a longtime divisional rival.

San Antonio Spurs v Houston Rockets Photo by Cato Cataldo/NBAE via Getty Images

From an up-and-down four showings to waiving former first-round pick Luka Samanic, the Spurs have had a whirlwind of a preseason campaign. On Friday they’ll have one last chance to figure everything out before the games start to count.

While the Silver and Black have experienced some issues, like Derrick White struggling to score and veteran shot-creator Thaddeus Young not finding his role yet, their opponents for the last preseason game also come into this contest with multiple unanswered questions.

The Rockets must still decide whether to hang onto veterans John Wall and Eric Gordon or move them to a new destination. And flat performances like the one against the Toronto Raptors on Monday night haven’t instilled much confidence in this iteration of the team. Either way, both squads approach mid-October with plenty of problems to solve.

San Antonio Spurs (2-2) vs. Houston Rockets (1-2)

October 15, 2021, | 7:30 PM CT

Watch: Bally Sports SW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: Al-Farouq Aminu (Out — Illness), Jock Landale (Out — Concussion Protocol), Tre Jones (Out — Ankle), Zach Collins (Out — Foot)

Rockets Injuries: Eric Gordon (Out — Ankle), Danuel House Jr. (Out — Personal), John Wall (Out — Rest)

Three things to watch for:

  • The Spurs added some much-needed three-point shooting when they acquired Doug McDermott and Bryn Forbes via free agency this offseason. As expected, both have performed well from deep, shooting better than 41% from beyond the arc. Unfortunately, San Antonio’s core of Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, and Lonnie Walker IV have shot lower than 27% from deep. While this doesn’t mean it’s a foregone conclusion that the Spurs will once again be a below-average three-point shooting team, it does show that some of their returning players haven’t developed consistency from long range yet. For San Antonio to flip the script and perform above expectations this season, they will need their young pieces to improve from three, so a solid shooting performance from downtown by them on Friday would really help build momentum as they prepare for their season opener against the Orlando Magic.
  • Heading into the preseason, fans and media alike wondered which of San Antonio’s young players would take the reins as the go-to scorer and primary shot-creator down the stretch. Fourth-year guard Lonnie Walker is one of many players who could fit the bill. Unfortunately, despite taking nearly 11 shots per game, the Miami alum has struggled to get much of anything going as a scorer or facilitator. Lonnie is shooting 33% from the floor, 20% from deep, and sporting a 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio. While the statistics aren’t doing him any favors, the eye test is a bit more troubling. Walker hasn’t looked comfortable on the offensive end, and outside of flashes out of the pick-and-roll and on drives, he has underwhelmed so far. As Oct, 20 approaches, keep an eye out on whether or not Lonnie can turn the tide of his performances and ride into the upcoming season with some positive momentum.
  • A pleasant surprise for the Spurs has been watching how comfortable Josh Primo looks out there against NBA competition. Sure, it’s just the preseason, and he’s playing against lower-level talent, but he’s been nothing short of fantastic in his limited minutes. Logging over 10 minutes per game, Primo has shot 58% from the floor and 50% from deep on nearly three attempts per game. It will be worth monitoring his performance on Friday night to see if he can stand out again. If he does, the Spurs might have to ask themselves an important question: Should Primo spend his rookie season in Austin? He’s displayed ample ability to space the floor both on and off the ball, so it looks like he might be able to hold his own in a limited role, even if it is just for 10 minutes every night. If Primo can put forth another impressive performance against Houston, he might play himself into a rotation role.

For the Rocket Fans’ perspective, please visit The Dream Shake.

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.