Losses have continued to add up for the San Antonio Spurs as they come dangerously close to going a whole month without winning a single game. Though the Phoenix Suns pummeled them by nearly 40 points in their last contest, perhaps three days of rest and a date against the fellow bottom-dwelling Houston Rockets can flip their fortunes around.
Bumps and bruises have made the first year of the rebuild grueling for the Silver and Black, not that it was ever going to be smooth sailing from start to finish. They enter this matchup shorthanded again for a tankathon with their I-10 adversary, and the results could have a legitimate influence on the impending Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes.
San Antonio Spurs (6-18) vs. Houston Rockets (7-17)
December 8, 2022 | 7:30 PM CT
Watch: KENS 5 | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs: Blake Wesley (Out — Knee), Jakob Poeltl (Out — Knee), Jeremy Sochan (Out — Quad), Keita Bates-Diop (Out — Foot), Dominick Barlow (Out — Two-Way), Devin Vassell (Doubtful — Knee), Romeo Langford (Probable — Back), Doug McDermott (Probable — Ankle), Josh Richardson (Probable — Ankle)
Rockets: Jae’Sean Tate (Out — Ankle), Darius Days (Out — Two-Way), Trevor Hudgins (Out — Two-Way), Josh Christopher (Questionable — Foot), Kevin Porter Jr. (Questionable — Foot), Bruno Fernando (Questionable — Illness)
What To Watch For
- Despite entering this matchup shorthanded, the Spurs might have finally run into the perfect opponent to stop their losing streak. San Antonio has been at their best when they force turnovers and get out in transition, so who better to face than a Rockets club that coughs up the ball more than anyone and allows the most points off turnovers in the NBA? Head Coach Gregg Popovich has labored to find a prosperous blueprint for half-court offense with his limited personnel. However, they could have a chance to find a smooth cadence against Houston, who possesses the third-worst defensive rating (116.1) in the league this season. While the Silver and Black depend on unselfish passing and continuous player movement to get on the scoreboard, their divisional rival plays a more isolation-heavy style revolving around high-volume self-creators like Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green. Containing individuals is more straightforward than stopping a system, and though the good guys are running a flawed operation, they seem to have a slight strategic advantage. Both Texas organizations are incredibly inexperienced and have significant shortcomings on both ends of the hardwood, and this matchup has all the makings of a high-scoring affair. Fans are probably in for some sloppy basketball from these young squads. At this point, Who cares? Offensive fireworks are usually more entertaining than defensive slugfests.
- Alperen Sengun was understandably at the top of draft day wishlists for a handful of members of the Spurs faithful a year ago. After a promising rookie season from the Turkish prospect, he has increased his per-game numbers across the board while boosting his shooting efficiency. He has averaged 14.9 points and 8.6 rebounds per game on 55.6% shooting from the field while playing third fiddle to the backcourt duo of Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green. The 20-year-old back-to-the-basket specialist became the fifth-youngest center to record 1,000 career points earlier this week, eclipsing that mark quicker than All-Stars like Pau Gasol, Tyson Chandler, DeMarcus Cousins, and a multitude of other household names. Sengun is a proficient low-post scorer with immaculate footwork and a collection of counter moves that belie his age. He gets to the charity stripe, cleans the glass, and dishes dazzling assists. All those skills packaged into a near-seven-foot frame make Houstonians dream about whether their coaching staff can develop him into something remotely close to Nikola Jokic. The back-to-back MVP is his idol, and there’s a cliche about shooting for the moon and landing in the stars that Sengun should consider following. So, was San Antonio wrong for passing on Alpy in the 2021 Draft? Hindsight might tell us yes. Unfortunately, the Josh Primo predicament will always keep us from knowing what could have been.
For the Rockets fans’ perspective, please visit The Dream Shake.
The Game Thread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action on PtR’s Twitter feed.