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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Portland Trail Blazers

The Spurs start a 3-game west coast road trip in Portland

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time this season, the San Antonio Spurs are going into a game with a winning streak – two and counting! Now, the team embarks on a three-game West Coast road trip as they take on the Portland Trail Blazers before going on to battle the 2 best teams in the league, the Golden State Warriors and the Phoenix Suns. The Spurs will look to build upon the momentum of closing out a tough Boston Celtics team and putting away the Washington Wizards with a strong second half, led most notably by Derrick White’s 18-point 3rd quarter.

The Blazers are looking to build some momentum as well, as they come into this game having lost three of their last four, but are 10-1 when playing at home. That may be tough to sustain with the news that their star player Damian Lillard will be out at least 10 days with lower abdominal tendinopathy. They’ll need to lean more heavily on CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, and potentially Norman Powell – who are more than capable of leading their team to victory.

San Antonio Spurs (6-13) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (11-11)

December 2, 2021 | 9:00 PM CST

Watch: KENS or NBA TV | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: Zach Collins (Out — Ankle), Doug McDermott (Probable — Knee), Devin Vassell (Probable — Quadriceps)

Blazers Injuries: Damian Lillard (Out — Abdomen), Nassir Little (Out — Ankle), Norman Powell (Questionable – Quadriceps)

What to Watch for:

  • Can Derrick White keep this up? The season started off a little bumpy for the Spurs guard, but after putting up 17 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists against Boston and then going on to have a season high 24 points against the Wizards, White hopes to continue this strong play. The Spurs have needed a consistent scorer to go with Dejounte Murray, so hopefully, White can be that again in this game.
  • Has anybody checked on Keldon’s three-point shooting lately? After being one of the worst shooters in the league through 10 games, Keldon has set the nets ablaze in his last 9 appearances. His 60% on 3.3 attempts per game has boosted his season average to 40.4%, which puts him 2nd on the team behind Doug McDermott’s 43.9%. He’s talked plenty about how much he’s worked on his shot, and now we’re starting to see them drop more often for him.
  • Is there any stopping this Portland offense? Even without Dame, Portland has plenty of firepower on their roster, or else they wouldn’t rank 4th in Offensive Rating. But the Spurs are coming off a defensive showing where they held Bradley Beal to 18 points on 8-21 shooting, 1-5 from three, as they held the Wizards to 99 points. And before that, they only allowed the Celtics to score 88 points — with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown shooting 9-23 and 6-16, respectively. That’s the kind of defense that leads teams to victory, regardless of the offense. They’ll need every bit of that defensive effort to slow down CJ McCollum & Co in this one.
  • Will the road woes come to an end? In their first 9 games on the road, the Spurs have gone 2-7. This is mostly due to a lack of offense, as the team is averaging 99.9 points per game, compared to the 113.7 points they average at home. Defensively, they’ve been better on the road, holding teams to 105.9 points to the 111.8 they give up at home. But the need for offense is real. Overall, they commit two turnovers a game more, they shoot less free throws, they average 8.7 made threes (10.5 at home), and their made field goals are down 5.5 as a whole. This would be a good time to start scoring away from the AT&T Center, as the Blazers have the 2nd-worst defensive rating in the league, giving up 112.5 points per 100 possessions.

For the Portland’s fans’ perspective, visit Blazers Edge.

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.