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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Atlanta Hawks

The Silver and Black look to start a new winning-streak amid a homestand SEGABABA

San Antonio Spurs v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Spurs bounced back against Sacramento Wednesday after a demoralizing loss to the Kings a few nights prior and now look to generate some momentum as their nine-game homestand comes to a close. Lucky for San Antonio, the Hawks have lost four of their last five outings, but an eight-game winning streak before their recent skid proves Atlanta is anything but a comfortable opponent.

While Trae Young continues to be among the most lethal scorers and facilitators in the NBA, trade requests, injuries, and a midseason coaching change have kept Atlanta from meeting expectations after a massive free agency haul. And the Hawks could once again be shorthanded as the status of Kris Dunn, Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter, John Collins, and Lou Williams is up in the air.

Without Lonnie Walker IV, Trey Lyles, Keita Bates-Diop, and Gorgui Dieng, the Silver and Black will also be operating at less than 100%, which is an all-too-familiar scenario. Thankfully, San Antonio’s winningest starting lineup of Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Keldon Johnson, DeMar DeRozan, and Jakob Poeltl is entirely intact, which means they will have an opportunity to build upon their success.

San Antonio Spurs (24-21) vs. Atlanta Hawks (23-24)

April 1, 2021 | 7:30 PM CT

Watch: BSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: Keita Bates-Diop (Out — Hamstring), Lonnie Walker IV (Out — Wrist), Trey Lyles (Out —Ankle), Gorgui Dieng (Out — Shoulder)

Hawks Injuries: Kris Dunn (Day-to-Day — Ankle), Cam Reddish (Out — Achilles), De’Andre Hunter (Day-to-Day — Knee), John Collins (Day-to-Day — Ankle), Lou Williams (Undisclosed — Day-to-Day)

What to Watch For

  • The injury bug continues to nip at San Antonio as recent buyout market signee Gorgui Dieng suffered a night-ending shoulder sprain within a few minutes of making his Silver and Black debut. The Spurs were in dire need of a reliable backup center after they parted way with LaMarcus Aldridge shortly following the NBA trade deadline. And they must once again lean on Drew Eubanks to fill the void created by Dieng’s potential extended absence. The third-year year big man out of Oregon State University has provided sufficient production minutes throughout the season. But unless he can improve his substandard field goal percentage or efficiency as a roll-man, head coach Gregg Popovich could have a tough time managing what has been a sputtering offense as of late. Should Jakob Poeltl find himself in early foul trouble, Clint Capela might become more of a headache than usual. Look for this matchup to be a solid litmus test for how the good guys perform with Eubanks fortifying the five.
  • The Spurs exploded for 120 points versus Sacramento a night ago, but getting to that number won’t be as easy against the Hawks. Atlanta no lingers among the worst point-stopping organizations in the league, and they have posted the 15th best scoring defense (112.4 PPG) this season. That may not seem like something to write home about. But the Hawks are lightyears ahead of a Sacramento defense that has allowed the third-most points in the NBA. John Collins, De’Andre Hunter, and Kris Dunn are arguably Atlanta’s most versatile and impactful defenders, yet all three might miss this meeting. Clint Capela will undoubtedly bring top-tier rim-protection, though Pop could find creative ways to attack Trae Young and Danilo Gallinari and create mismatches. Keep an eye out for any late injury report updates.
  • The Hawks are 11-3 when Trae Young scores at least 30 points in a game this season and just 12-21 when he fails to reach that mark. No player is more paramount to Atlanta’s success than their superstar point guard, and San Antonio’s chances of winning skyrocket if they can contain the Oklahoma alum. With Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, Devin Vassell, and the always scrappy Patty Mills at their disposal, the Spurs seem to have the personnel to keep Young from an offensive outburst. With that said, basketball is more than paper matchups, and Trae has torched Popovich and company to a tune of 28.3 points per game on 51.9% shooting in their last three encounters. Unsurprisingly, Atlanta is 2-1 over that stretch. The third-year floor general is also a near-generational passer, and his ability to spawn open looks for teammates from thin air is just as deadly as his self-creation.
  • Atlanta is mediocre in most offensive categories, but they excel at getting to the charity stripe. The Hawks have shot the fourth-most free throws per game (24.4 FTA) this season, and they’ve knocked them down at the fifth-best rate (81.9%). Six players on their roster average at least three trips to the line, spearheaded by Trae Young’s 8.9 attempts per game (3rd in the NBA). Nate McMillan’s ball-club embraces physicality, and they aren’t afraid of drawing contact. With Lonnie Walker IV, Trey Lyles, Keita Bates-Diop, and Gorgui Dieng sidelined, San Antonio doesn’t have the depth to bail them out if they get into early foul trouble. Luka Samanic, Tre Jones, Cam Reynolds, and Quinndary Weatherspoon are mostly unproven commodities, and as discussed earlier, Drew Eubanks isn’t someone who would ideally receive an extensive run.

For the Hawks fans’ perspective, visit Peach Tree Hoops.

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.