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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at New York Knicks

Can the Silver and Black end their seven-game road trip on a positive note?

New York Knicks v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

San Antonio has continued struggling as health and safety protocols have left them down a handful of significant rotation players since the calendar flipped to 2022. The shorthanded Spurs have put forth several admirable efforts against some genuine Eastern Conference playoff contenders, and they will look to get back on track as they take on the New York Knicks.

While the good guys are coming off a grueling overtime outing against the Brooklyn Nets, they will only have to make a modest six-mile voyage from Barclays Center to Madison Square Garden for their eighth SEGABABA of the season. Hopefully, head coach Gregg Popovich and crew put an end to their losing streak and finish their road trip with a much-needed victory

San Antonio Spurs (15-24) @ New York Knicks (19-21)

January 10, 2022 | 6:30 PM CT

Watch: Bally Sports Southwest | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: Zach Collins (Out — Ankle), Doug McDermott (Out — COVID-19 Protocols), Derrick White (Out — COVID-19 Protocols), Keldon Johnson (Out — COVID-19 Protocols), Devin Vassell (Out — COVID-19 Protocols), Thaddeus Young (Out — COVID-19 Protocols), Tre Jones (Out — COVID-19 Protocols)

Knicks Injuries: Derrick Rose (Out — Ankle), Ryan Arcidiacono (Out — Ankle), Nerlens Noel (Game Time Decision — COVID-19 Protocols), Kemba Walker (Game Time Decision — Knee), Evan Fournier (Game Time Decision — Thigh)

What To Watch For

  • Julius Randle leads New York in points, rebounds, assists, touches, and shots. The All-Star power forward is unquestionably the driving force behind what the Knicks do on the offensive end, but there has been a sharp dropoff in his per game and shooting efficiency from a season ago. The 27-year-old hasn’t recaptured the consistency that helped him take home the Most Improved Player Award in 2021, but Randle isn’t the only one struggling in the Big Apple. RJ Barrett has also taken a step backward after a breakout sophomore campaign, which has only compounded onto what has been a frustrating season for head coach Tom Thibodeau and company. Despite disappointing results for New York’s go-to scorers with nearly half of the schedule behind them, the Spurs are well aware of what this duo can accomplish when they get on the same page. Randle and Barrett combined for 47 points and knocked down ten triples the last time these clubs met, and San Antonio should prioritize keeping them in check this go-round.
  • Poor rebounding was one of the things that came back to haunt the Spurs in their first meeting with New York. They didn’t clean the glass when the Knicks bricked shots, which led to a whopping 17 offensive boards and 21 second-chance points. The Silver and Black were left scrambling around the court to recover onto wide-open shooters when they couldn’t box out two big lineups, and the Knicks made them pay for their lack of frontcourt depth. Mitchell Robinson, Nerlens Noel, Julius Randle, Obi Toppin, and Taj Gibson measure between six-eight and seven-feet tall, and San Antonio is 0-7 when they allow at least 15 offensive rebounds. That considerable height disparity could become a more pronounced issue now that Keldon Johnson, Doug McDermott, and Thaddeus Young are on the shelf. Jakob Poeltl, Jock Landale, Drew Eubanks, and Devontae Cacok are proficient rebounders. With that said, they often find themselves out of the play when contesting attempts at the rim, leaving their undersized teammates to fight for boards with opposing centers. San Antonio can’t help that they are shorthanded at the moment, but playing their slew of guards out of position made Nicolas Claxton and Day’Ron Sharpe look like the second coming of Dennis Rodman at times.
  • The Silver and Black are 6-14 when they get outscored from beyond the arc this season, and New York is among one of the most proficient high-volume long-distance shooting teams in the NBA. The Knicks rank tenth in both three-point attempts per game (36.9) and three-point percentage (35.7%), and they have a plethora of marksmen San Antonio should be worried about on Monday night. Evan Fournier, Kevin Knox II, Quentin Grimes, Kemba Walker, and Alec Burks shoot better than 38% from the perimeter. Even RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, Immanuel Quickley, Wayne Seldon, and Miles McBride can get going when they see a couple of three-balls fall through the hoop. Lonnie Walker IV, Josh Primo, Bryn Forbes, and Jock Landale have provided sufficient floor spacing since health and safety protocols left almost half of San Antonio’s roster on the injury report. And that quartet presents the Spurs their best chance of keeping pace with one of the premier collections of sharpshooters in the league.

For the Knicks fans’ perspective, visit Posting and Toasting.

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.