The shorthanded San Antonio Spurs dropped a thriller versus the Phoenix Suns as they fell short of an improbable upset on the road. A mishmash of spot starters, reserves, and third-stringers pushed them out in front early in the first half, but in an all-too-familiar twist, the good guys couldn’t seal the deal when the game came down to crunch time.
The Silver and Black will have a shot to redeem themselves as they open a three-game homestand against the Golden State Warriors. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Wiggins, and Jordan Poole make for a formidable quartet of scorers. But Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, and Otto Porter Jr. sitting on the sidelines should make this a winnable matchup.
San Antonio Spurs (19-32) vs. Golden State Warriors (37-13)
February 1, 2022 | 7:30 PM CT
Watch: KENS | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Zach Collins (Out — Competition Reconditioning), Devontae Cacok (Out — Two Way)
Warriors Injuries: Nemanja Bjelica (Out — Back), Draymond Green (Out — Back), Otto Porter Jr. (Out — Back), Andre Iguodala (Out — Hip), James Wiseman (Out — Knee)
What To Watch For
- Steph Curry is an eight-time All-Star, seven-time All-NBA honoree, three-time league champion, two-time MVP, and unquestionably the best three-point shooter in the history of the earth. The baby-faced assassin pushed decades worth of what previous generations might have considered poor shot selection aside while ushering in the pace-and-space era. Despite an unmatched resume as a lethal long-range marksman, even Curry falls into a cold spell from time to time. The mythical point guard looked more like a mere mortal through the first 14 games of January, logging unusually poor .369/.313/.891 shooting splits amid the worst slump of his career. But it all came to an end on Monday night as Steph punctuated the month with 40 points, five boards, and nine assists against the hapless Houston Rockets and their last-place defense. Although San Antonio has fresh legs on their side for this matchup, they also have the misfortune of hosting Curry less than 24 hours after he rediscovered his rhythm. Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Jakob Poeltl held the 33-year-old superstar to 27 points on 7-of-28 from the field the last time these two teams met. The above trio sat out when the Spurs faced Phoenix on Sunday, but they will be ready to go for round two with Golden State, which should only improve their chances of suffocating Steph on the perimeter.
- The Spurs couldn’t be more different from Golden State in their approach beyond the arc. San Antonio has launched the sixth-fewest threes (1605) in the NBA this season, and the Warriors have attempted the fourth-most shots from long distance (2035). Considering head coach Steve Kerr has the Splash Brothers, Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins, and Otto Porter Jr. at his disposal, it makes sense why his club lets it fly from the perimeter at a practically unprecedented rate (11th all-time). The Silver and Black are 7-16 when they lose the three-point battle this season, and this contest will put their defense to the test. Not only will they have to take special care to fortify their defenses when Steph Curry and company come to town, but they will need their sharpshooters to show up on Tuesday night. Doug McDermott and Keldon Johnson have nailed 42.3% of their combined 11.8 three-point attempts per game since the new year began, so don’t be too surprised if the Spurs hang around with Golden State if those two knock down their triples. Getting a trifecta or two from Devin Vassell, Jock Landale, Lonnie Walker IV, Josh Primo, or Jock Landale would also go a long way for San Antonio.
- Gregg Popovich may have turned 73-years-old less than a week ago, but even in his 26th season at the helm, he is still one of the best play-callers in the NBA. Despite entering enemy territory without Derrick White, Jakob Poeltl, and Dejounte Murray, the grey-bearded head coach played around with lineups and rotations while devising a game plan to fit the personnel in front of him. Tre Jones, Josh Primo, and Lonnie Walker IV assumed the playmaking responsibilities for the shorthanded Spurs on Sunday. Instead of falling apart, the young trio of guards came within a few possessions of defeating the first-place Suns on the road. Jones finished with 15 points and nine assists, Lonnie tallied 22 points, and Primo had 13 points and a pair of blocks. McDermott scored a team-high 24 points, most of them via a pretty setup from Tre. Regardless of the result in Phoenix, the Silver and Black got an opportunity to give their reserves some well-deserved reps. Perhaps the momentum built during those extended minutes will come in handy against the Golden State Warriors. And maybe, just maybe, some of those performances might factor into revamping the first and second-string rotations now that the team is mostly healthy.
For the Warriors fans’ perspective, please visit Golden State of Mind.
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.