The Spurs are in the middle of a season-best four-game winning streak after defeating Steph Curry and the league-leading Golden State Warriors on the road on Saturday night. San Antonio will look to remain undefeated on their brief Western Conference road trip as they make a final pit stop in the Grand Canyon State for a date with the Phoenix Suns.
While the second-place Suns lost All-Star swingman Devin Booker to a hamstring injury and saw their franchise-record 18-game heater come to an end, the good guys shouldn’t write off their shorthanded opponent. Deandre Ayton is among the best roll men in the NBA, Mikal Bridges is a darkhorse candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, and any franchise led by Chris Paul has a chance to compete.
San Antonio Spurs (8-13) vs. Phoenix Suns (19-4)
December 6, 2021 | 8:00 PM CT
Watch: Bally Sports Southwest | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Zach Collins (Out — Ankle), Devin Vassell (Questionable — Quad), Keita Bates-Diop (Questionable — Ankle), Devontae Cacok (Out — Two Way)
Suns Injuries: Dario Saric (Out — Knee), Devin Booker (Out — Hamstring), Frank Kaminsky (Out — Knee), Abdel Nader (Out — Knee)
- Derrick White struggled to generate consistent offense out of the gates but has steadily shaken off the rust since San Antonio started their four-game winning streak a little over a week ago. The fifth-year combo guard has averaged 19.5 points and 5.0 assists over his last four contests while providing his usual stingy perimeter defense. Saturday was by far his best performance the year, dropping a season-high 25 points as he held Steph Curry to 1-of-4 shooting when matched up man-to-man with the two-time NBA MVP. Considering Mikal Bridges and Chris Paul spent most of their minutes guarding Dejounte Murray last time these teams met, White could have another chance to maintain his momentum versus the shorthanded Suns. And if he gets on a roll and draws extra attention from Phoenix, it could open up plenty of open looks for his teammates.
- Per Synergy, the Suns are home to the second-best defense and offense in the NBA this season. San Antonio’s pedestrian half-court offense won’t carry them to a victory on the road. But with Devin Booker sitting out this matchup, the Silver and Black can turn their focus to corralling Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton. Book is responsible for creating 34.4 points per game for Phoenix, but head coach Monty Williams will have to find another way to replace his production. Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Devin Vassell, and Lonnie Walker IV will likely take turns covering CP3 throughout the evening. Although several big men dominated the Spurs across the early parts of their schedules, most of those performances came while Jakob Poeltl was still in COVID protocols. And without many self-creators on the Suns, the good guys could find themselves in a great position to extend their winning streak as long as they respect their opponent.
- The way San Antonio has won games as of late goes against a lot of the principles of modern basketball. They shun the three-ball, embrace the midrange jumper, and rarely get to the free-throw line but make up for it by taking care of the rock, forcing turnovers, and committing the fewest fouls in the league. This volatile playstyle depends on the Spurs executing their game plan to near perfection on a nightly basis. When players knock down shots at an above-average clip, the Silver and Black are practically unbeatable. When the team underachieves, it almost always results in a blowout. But most nights San Antonio is somewhere in between, which has led to plenty of close contests. Thankfully, Gregg Popovich has his club firing on all cylinders, and they could come close to approaching .500 with how their schedule looks over their next ten games.
- Head coach Gregg Popovich went with a strict nine-man rotation against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday, and it should be worth monitoring if he does so again when they visit the Valley of the Sun. Resident sixth man Devin Vassell and spot starter Keita Bates-Diop are questionable to return on Monday, and they have been two of the most impactful players on the roster. Tre Jones and Thaddeus Young have seemingly cemented their spots within the second unit, and Bryn Forbes has seen a transition to a more situationally dependent role. But their minutes could dwindle should Pop shake up the lineups we saw in San Antonio’s latest victory. Regardless of what happens versus Phoenix, fans should be encouraged by the depth of this Spurs team.
For the Suns fan’s perspective, please visit Bright Side Of The Sun.
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.