Hello, and welcome to yet another edition of ‘Too many games too close together!’
Tonight’s episode will involve the San Antonio Spurs looking to steal away a win from a Celtic’s squad that has given them trouble in recent years, as the Silver and Black embark on the first game of a dreaded FIGASENI.
After building up another three-game win streak, the Spurs fell short of stringing together four consecutive wins again, falling to the Miami Heat in a close one. Instead, they’re looking to build up another head of steam as the embark on what will be (pretty arguably) their most brutal stretch of the season.
Unfortunately for San Antonio, the fates appear to be against them already, as standout Derrick White has gone down with a season-ending ankle injury, and the Celtics have gotten both Jason Tatum and Robert Williams back from an injury layoff.
The Celtics have been more inconsistent than expected this year, with only two more wins than the Spurs despite playing most of their contests in the Eastern Conference. In spite of ranking in the top 13 of the NBA offensively and defensively, some ineffable form of cohesion appears to be evading Boston’s team, who with the addition of injuries and covid-related absences have struggled to string wins together.
With no clear weaknesses outside of Center, it’s hard to know just what’s ailing the Celtics, who’ve still managed to be middling on the glass, and sit just outside the top 10 in long-distance shooting (though ranking in the bottom half in assists and turnover percentage certainly raises the eyebrows a bit).
In any case, it’s likely that both teams will come into this one a bit banged up and sporting tired legs, so I wouldn’t expect this to be a high energy contest. Hopefully San Antonio’s run of rotten luck will turn just in time for the final push of the season.
San Antonio Spurs @ Boston Celtics
April 30, 2021 | 6:30 PM CT
Watch: BSSW & NBATV | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Trey Lyles - Out (Ankle), Derrick White - Out (Ankle)
Celtics Injuries: Kemba Walker - Day-to-Day (Side)
What to watch for:
- The Trial By Fire: With Derrick White likely out for the rest of the season, it appears that it will fall to San Antonio’s most recent lottery selection to pick up the slack. As gifted as Vassell is defensively and from long-distance, the Spurs will need even more from him during their most challenging stretch of the season to have any chance at improving their slot in the play-in tournament (or, most improbably, avoiding it altogether). Vassell has flashed hints of a mid-range game on occasion this season and the ability to drive, both of which would help greatly in attempting to make up for White’s contributions in the aggregate. Barring any inexplicable benching, the next eleven games have the potential to serve as a showcase for San Antonio’s shiny new rookie, and may even serve as a glimpse of the Silver and Black’s teams of the future.
- Big Men Growth: With the Celtics strong at virtually every other position, it’s likely that it will fall to San Antonio’s Centers to dig out an advantage in this one. With Jakob Poeltl scorching the nets from the free throw line as of late, and Drew Eubanks doing his best Kareem-Abdul Jabbar impression on the offensive end, this will serve as interesting test of growth in an area that the Spurs desperately need to improve. For Eubanks in particular, this stretch run will likely serve as a test of whether or not he can serve as more than a 3rd option up front. Offensively, the Spurs need consistent production from at least one of their big men, and while Poeltl’s defensive virtues make up for that particular weakness, Eubanks has no such talents to fall back on. And with San Antonio looking to improve their team with the boatload of money they’ll have this off-season, this will be a critical juncture for determining which players are easily replaceable.
For the Celtics’ fans’ perspective, visit CelticsBlog.
PtR’s Game thread 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.