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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Can the Silver and Black snap their losing streak as they embark on yet another SEGABABA?

NBA: DEC 20 Spurs at Clippers Photo by John McCoy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The shorthanded San Antonio Spurs lost their fifth consecutive contest as they fell to the surging Cleveland Cavaliers in a back-and-forth battle that went down to the wire. The good guys have struggled in crunch time over the first half of their schedule, and another close game didn’t do much to save their legs for their third SEGABABA of the new year.

Next up for the Silver and Black are the Los Angeles Clippers, a slumping franchise that enters this matchup down their superstar tandem of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Head coach Tyronne Lue has made the most of a quickly deteriorating situation, but San Antonio should have every shot at snapping their cold spell versus another understaffed squad.

San Antonio Spurs (15-27) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (21-22)

January 15, 2022 | 7:30 PM CT

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

Spurs Injuries: Zach Collins (Out — Ankle), Derrick White (Questionable — COVID-19 Protocols), Tre Jones (Out — COVID-19 Protocols), Joe Wieskamp (Out — Two-Way), Devontae Cacok (Out — Two-Way)

Clippers Injuries: Kawhi Leonard (Out — Knee), Jason Preston (Out — Foot), Paul George (Out — Elbow), Isaiah Hartenstein (Game Time Decision — Ankle), Luke Kennard (Game Time Decision — COVID-19 Protocols), Justise Winslow (Game Time Decision — COVID-19 Protocols)

What To Watch For

  • Paul George has unquestionably been the primary reason Los Angeles has remained inside the Western Conference picture despite missing Kawhi Leonard this season. The seven-time All-Star has seen a steep dropoff in efficiency across the board but considering he has shouldered perhaps the highest offensive load of his career alongside an oft-injured and subpar supporting cast, that isn’t all that shocking. Unfortunately for the Clippers, George won’t be available for a twelfth consecutive contest as he continues nursing a torn ligament in his right elbow. Head coach Ty Lue and company are only 7-10 when PG-13 fails to suit up, which should theoretically give San Antonio an advantage on the second night of a back-to-back. With that said, the Spurs have dropped some incredibly winnable matchups throughout the first half of their schedule, including a deflating loss against the last-place Houston Rockets in the opener of their seven-game homestand on Wednesday night. While the Silver and Black can compete with any team for four quarters, they aren’t good enough to pencil in any dubs regardless of how poor their opponent might appear on paper. The shorthanded Clippers deserve their respect, and as long as the good guys execute the game plan, they should walk away with a much-needed victory.
  • The Clippers were always going to face an uphill battle towards retaining their status as a championship contender once Kawhi Leonard underwent ACL surgery in July. Their situation only got more complicated when Jake Fischer reported the Clippers were contemplating shutting down George for the rest of the season earlier this week, news that broke days after Chris Haynes claimed Kawhi was ahead of schedule. Los Angeles was on track to comfortably make the playoffs before the new year began, but they have dropped into eighth place and are only a half-game ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the play-in race. Marcus Moris Sr. has now assumed go-to scoring duties, which unsurprisingly hasn’t yielded particularly successful results. While the 32-year-old combo forward has averaged a commendable 19.1 points per game over his last nine outings, he has struggled to maintain any semblance of efficiency, only shooting 41.9% from the field during that period. The Clippers don’t have many players capable of creating for themselves and their teammates. And as long as San Antonio can hold Morris, Reggie Jackson, and Luke Kennard in check on Saturday night, they should be capable of capitalizing on a shorthanded opponent and ending their five-game losing streak.
  • Dejounte Murray has averaged 25.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 9.5 assists per game since clearing health and safety protocols nearly one week ago. Despite playing some of the best basketball of his life, San Antonio can’t seem to get on the same page as their All-Star candidate, which has only hurt his chances of earning a ticket to the annual midseason exhibition. The Spurs have never put personal accolades before team success, and Dejounte has communicated countless times that he would rather win than pick up a triple-double in a losing effort. Murray undeniably has the numbers to cement himself as a top ten floor general in the NBA, but San Antonio will continue tumbling in the standings as long as the rest of the roster falls short. Jakob Poeltl went scoreless against the Cavaliers, Doug McDermott shot 3-of-13, and Josh Primo turned the ball over three times in ten minutes. The Silver and Black should improve as players return from lengthy and restore a sense of normalcy to the rotations. Losing Derrick White was a massive blow for San Antonio, and regaining the other half of their starting backcourt could propel them over the Clippers.

For the Clippers fans’ perspective, please visit Clips Nation.

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.