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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Dallas Mavericks

Can the Silver and Black bounce back at home after their first blowout loss of the season?

San Antonio Spurs v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

The Spurs return to the friendly confines of the AT&T Center for a brief homestand against Dallas after an up-and-down three-game road trip that began with their divisional nemesis a little less than a week ago. San Antonio squandered a 20-point first-quarter cushion last time they met the Mavericks, and they’ll look to avenge their last-minute loss as they continue searching for some early-season momentum.

All-Star seven-footer Kristaps Porzingis missed the first matchup with the Silver and Black, and according to the latest injury report, it appears Maxi Kleber might be joining the floor-stretching forward on the sidelines this Wednesday. And with the Dallas Mavericks on the second night of a back-to-back when they arrive in the 2-1-0, the good guys could be in a prime position to pick up their third win of the year.

San Antonio Spurs (2-5) at Dallas Mavericks (4-3)

November 3, 2021 | 7:30 PM CT

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

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

Mavericks Injuries: Kristaps Porzingis (Questionable — Back), Maxi Kleber (Questionable — Back), Trey Burke (Out — COVID Protocols)

What to Watch For

Per Synergy, the Mavericks have graded out as the third-best transition and eighth-worst half-court defense in the NBA. Conversely, San Antonio sports the third-best transition and tenth-worst half-court offense. Of course, these are merely early returns from a pair of teams that have been down a regular starter for a handful of games, but it suggests Dallas might be well-equipped to stifle the Spurs.

And when these interstate adversaries met last week, Dallas held the Silver and Black to 55.3% shooting inside the paint, with just 16 attempts coming directly at the rim. The rest of their shots originated from the midrange or beyond the arc, two areas they haven’t been particularly efficient from so far, and Kleber’s shot-swatting exploits were responsible for most of Dallas’ success steering traffic away from the hoop.

Kristaps Porzingis and Maxi Kleber sat out against the Heat on Tuesday night due to lingering back injuries, and both big men are once again questionable as the Mavericks come to town. Dallas has stumbled a bit without them in the lineup, seeing Dwight Powell and Willie Cauley-Stein combine for just six points and 11 rebounds while conceding a 22-point double-double to a banged-up Bam Adebayo in their latest loss.

If head coach Jason Kidd decides to keep Porzingis and Kleber sidelined on Wednesday, the Spurs should have the greenest light to attack the rim at every possible opportunity. Through seven games, Dallas has allowed opponents to shoot 66.9% in the restricted area. And that plays right into San Antonio’s favor as they drive the ball a whopping 54.6 times per game, the fourth-highest rate in the NBA this season.

However, Gregg Popovich and crew should likely be less concerned with scoring and more concerned with stopping their interstate rival from piling points on the scoreboard. Although Dallas was home to the ninth-best offense in the NBA a year ago, they’ve gotten off to a sluggish start this season. But as long as they have Luka Doncic running the show, the Mavs are always a threat to get hot in a hurry.

Dallas let a winnable contest against the potential title-contending Heat slip from their grasps down the stretch less than 24 hours ago, though that might have been the perfect tune-up before hitting the road to face the 2-5 Spurs. Luka Doncic went off for a season-high 33 points, and Jalen Brunson also recorded a season-high with 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting in his first start of the year.

The Spurs had their worst outing of the season versus a reeling Pacers squad on Monday, drawing harsh criticism from coach Pop, who said San Antonio “didn’t have enough guys mentally ready to compete or execute” during his postgame presser. The good guys can’t afford to come out flat when Dallas steps onto their home court, and hopefully, being on the wrong end of a blowout has them motivated to perform against a familiar foe.

For the Mavericks fans’ perspective, please visit Mavs Moneyball.

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.