Having won 4 of their last 5, and 10 of their last 15, the San Antonio Spurs look to have found their footing. This is especially true on the offensive side of the ball, as they’ve scored at least 110 points in the last nine games (something @AirlessJordan noted as the Spurs longest streak since they did it back in 1984). Keldon Johnson becoming the best shooter on the Spurs is a big reason for that – he’s averaged 16.7 points in the last 14 games he’s played, even though that includes a dud of a game against the New York Knicks. Hopefully, the Spurs will continue this December heat wave against the Utah Jazz.
The visitors come into this having won their Christmas Day matchup against the Dallas Mavericks, 120-116. Donovan Mitchell carried the load offensively, scoring 33 points, even though he was only 1-7 from three. And while the Jazz will be without their All-Star guard on Monday, they have plenty of firepower for the Spurs to contend with. The San Antonio native, Jordan Clarkson, has averaged 20 points in his last nine games against the Silver and Black on 50% shooting.
San Antonio Spurs (14-18) vs. Utah Jazz (23-9)
December 27, 2021 | 7:30 PM CST
Watch: Bally Sports Southwest | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Jazz Injuries: Donovan Mitchell (Out – Back), Udoka Azubuike (Out – Ankle), Malik Fitts (Out – Shoulder)
Spurs Injuries: Dejounte Murray (Out – Health and Safety Protocols), Zach Collins (Out — Ankle)
What to Watch for:
• Can the Spurs keep the ball moving? As noted above, the Spurs offense has been on a tear. They had jumped up to 5th in the NBA in points per game before they dropped 144 on the Detroit Pistons. A key piece to that scoring comes from the Spurs moving the ball like a Spurs team has been known to do. In the last five games, they’ve averaged 32 assists per game. Being a team that relies on a few different players to score, this number has been key all year, especially when they face a team that’s as solid defensively as the Jazz are.
• Who steps up in this one? It seems like every game, there is somebody else that leads the team in scoring. Keita Bates-Diop scoring 30 against the Los Angeles Lakers may be an outlying performance, but somebody will have to step up alongside the guys the Spurs expect to score – that being Keldon Johnson, Derrick White, and Lonnie Walker. Against the Pistons, it was Jock Landale, who scored 18 on 7-9 shooting. Bates-Diop, Landale, or even the likes of Bryn Forbes putting up around 15 points could go a long way in helping the Spurs pull out a victory.
• Will the Spurs be able to stop the music? Even without Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz are a big-time threat to score the ball at will. The ball movement they play with and the amount of shooters they can put on the court is second-to-none. They’re 1st in three-point attempts per game and 5th in percentage, which has them sitting atop the league ranks in offensive rating, at 117.5. In fact, the 4.4 edge they hold over the Atlanta Hawks, who are 2nd, is larger than the gap the Hawks have over the team in 20th place.
• Could rest disadvantage hurt the Spurs? Honestly, last season was the first time I remember ever hearing the term “rest advantage,” which is what happens when one team is on a SEGABABA and their opponent is not. So far this year, the Jazz are 9-1 when they have the rest advantage, whereas the Spurs are 3-4 when they have a rest disadvantage. Luckily, the Spurs were able to get out of the first game without having to play their guys many minutes (Bates-Diop led the team at 25 minutes). Still, having to play the night before tends to have an impact on a team. Hopefully, this youthful bunch of Spurs will be able to bounce back against the team with the 3rd best record in the league.