With 13 games in the next 3 weeks, every game will count towards the San Antonio Spurs’ quest to make the playoffs this year. Positioning for the play-in tournament will depend on the Silver and Black getting as many wins as possible, especially against teams that are struggling. The Washington Wizards are not struggling at the moment, having won their last 8 games to force their way into the East’s playin tournament picture, but they are playing a SEGABABA. Can the Spurs continued to play like the second best road team in the league and take care of business?
San Antonio Spurs (30-29) @ Washington Wizards (27-33)
April 26, 2021 | 6:00 PM CST
Watch: BSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Trey Lyles (Out — Ankle), Rudy Gay (Day to Day — Back)
Wizards Injuries: Rui Hachimura (Out - Kneecap), Deni Avdija (Out - Ankle)
What to Watch For
- Bradley Beal has been on a roll, averaging 31.1 points per game. Scott Brooks has called him unstoppable. But one thing the young guns on the Spurs have been showing is defensive athleticism. Either Derrick White or Dejounte Murray are going to have to play lockdown defense to keep Beal from going off on the Spurs. If they can contain him, then 2nd option Russell Westbrook will feel like he has to take the game all on his shoulders, which can sometimes make it easier to throw off his game.
- Considering the above, the Wizards will be playing the second game of a back-to-back. Beal looked like he may have hurt himself in the last 1:14 of the game versus the Cavaliers. While he wasn’t listed in any injury reports up to publication of this preview, Scott Brooks may want to sit him out of the game or limit his minutes to protect him.
- After dealing with some injuries this season, former Spur Davis Bertans isn’t quite having the breakout year he did last season when he averaged 15 points, but he’s still good for 11 points per game on 40% shooting from three. The Spurs have solid individual perimeter defenders in Murray, White, Keldon Johnson, and Devin Vassell, but none of them can match the length of the Latvian Laser (unless Pop wants to stick Luka Samanic on him, which is possible if Gay is still out). Former players are always looking to stick it to their old team, so the Spurs will need to stay disciplined on defense and not leave him open.
- White has been on fire from the 3-point line. In the last ten games, he has been shooting 41.9% from three. His defense has also been as good as ever, and when asked to take over ball-handling duties he as been as solid as ever. Here’s to hoping Bubble-Derrick continues to make appearances.
- Third quarter collapses have become somewhat common for the Spurs lately. How long they last (and by extent how long they extend into the fourth quarter) has been a factor in determining whether the Spurs pull out the win or not. They recovered on Saturday in New Orleans after getting down by five late but haven’t at other times, costing them some valuable wins. While the Wizards are pretty much the Spurs’ equal when it comes to 3-point shooting — about 10.5 makes per game on just over 35% shooting — they have the players to get hot on a hurry (and teams just have a knack for doing that to the Spurs), so the Spurs will need to shake that habit starting tonight and not let the opponent get confident late.
For the Wizards fans’ perspective, visit Bullets Forever.
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.