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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Milwaukee Bucks

The Silver and Black seek to end their four-game losing streak as they face yet another title contender.

Milwaukee Bucks v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

The Spurs make the penultimate stop of their three-game road trip this Saturday as they look to even the score in round two with Milwaukee after a close contest between the clubs a week ago. Though San Antonio kept pace with the reigning champions for the better part of two-and-a-half quarters, weathering several runs along the way, the Eastern Conference powerhouse eventually pulled ahead and never looked back.

Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and his perennial All-Star sidekick Khris Middleton were without Donte DiVincenzo, Brook Lopez, and Bobby Portis last time out. And with Jrue Holiday reportedly joining them on the injury report with a sprained ankle, the Silver and Black absolutely must pounce on a prime opportunity to take advantage of a shorthanded squad and pick up their second victory of the season.

San Antonio Spurs (1-4) @ Milwaukee Bucks (3-2)

October 30, 2021 | 7:00 PM CT

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

Spurs Injuries: Zach Collins (Out — Ankle), Devontae Cacok (Out — On Assignment), Joe Wieskamp (Out — On Assignment), Josh Primo (Out — On Assignment), Doug McDermott (Out — Knee)

Bucks Injuries: Donte DiVincenzo (Out — Ankle), Brook Lopez (Out — Back), Jrue Holiday (Out — Ankle), Bobby Portis (Out — Reconditioning)

Will San Antonio Generate Enough Threes?

San Antonio has witnessed a hot-and-cold relationship with the three-ball throughout the early goings of the season, shooting 34% from beyond the arc on a wildly varying number of attempts. And their unpredictability was best highlighted by them taking 24 threes against the Nuggets last Friday, then turning around and launching 39 triples versus the Bucks less than 24 hours later in their first SEGABABA of the season.

Despite adding established sharpshooters in Doug McDermott and Byrn Forbes during the offseason, the Spurs haven’t found much success from long distance. Forbes, McDermott, Devin Vassell, and Lonnie Walker IV are the only players on the roster nailing trifectas with any semblance of consistency so far, with everyone else failing to meet the league average (34.4%) by quite a large margin.

Unfortunately for the Silver and Black, McDermott will sit out of a second consecutive matchup as he deals with knee soreness, which leaves them sorely short of three-point production. Dejounte Murray and Bryn Forbes caught fire when San Antonio traveled to Dallas for a date with their I-35 rivals. But unless their teammates follow suit, it may prove difficult for the good guys to manufacture efficient offense.

Can the Spurs overcome Giannis Antetokoumpo?

Giannis Antetokoumpo is a Finals MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, five-time All-Star, and according to the league, one of the 75 greatest players in NBA history. His accolades go on for days, and his undisputed two-way dominance grants the Milwaukee Bucks the same structural integrity Tim Duncan afforded San Antonio for nearly two decades.

It was almost impossible to contain the Big Fundamental. And if by some miracle you did, future Hall of Famers Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker were there to pick up the slack. Giannis, like Duncan, has a rendition of the Big Three in Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, but he’ll be down the former as well as two starters and a sixth man when the Spurs come to town.

As counterintuitive as it might sound, rather than fruitlessly focusing all their energy on slowing an unstoppable force like Antetokounmpo, San Antonio’s best shot at emerging victorious might just be letting the Greek Freak feast. And if the Spurs dominate his shorthanded supporting cast, they should have a fighting chance.

A month ago at media day, head coach Gregg Popovich acknowledged the Silver and Black didn’t have a superstar but quickly noted how that isn’t necessarily a disadvantage. Though that may be an overly optimistic view of their situation, the entire roster has seemingly fully bought into a team-first approach.

The Spurs are devoid of a foundational cornerstone in the vein of a Tim Duncan or Giannis Antetokoumpo. However, Dejounte Murray and Jakob Poeltl have thrived in their new roles, anchoring the team on both ends. And San Antonio’s egalitarian offense and defensive intensity have kept them competitive night in and night out.

For the Bucks fans’ perspective, please visit Brew Hoop.

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.