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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Atlanta Hawks

Can the Silver and Black get back on track in the ATL after an unusually active trade deadline?

Atlanta Hawks v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

The highly anticipated NBA trade deadline came and went this Thursday, yet instead of staying put, the San Antonio Spurs pulled off a pair of deals that shook up the roster and the fan base. As if all that player movement wasn’t complicated enough on its own, it occurred right as the good guys were prepping for a date with the Atlanta Hawks.

The Silver and Black now look to pick up their first win of the Rodeo Road Trip, but Trae Young and company make for a formidable foe. Not only is the two-time All-Star among the most lethal scorers in the league, but his supporting cast of John Collins, Clint Capela, Kevin Huerter, and Bogdan Bogdanović only amplify his creativity as a passer.

San Antonio Spurs (20-35) @ Atlanta Hawks (26-28)

February 11, 2022 | 6:30 PM CT

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

Spurs Injuries: Tre Jones (Questionable — Dental Procedure), Joe Wieskamp (Out — Two Way), Devontae Cacok (Out — Two Way), Tomas Satoransky (Out — Not With Team), Goran Dragic (Out — Not With Team), Josh Richardson (Out — Not With Team), Romeo Langford (Out — Not With Team)

Hawks Injuries: Jalen Johnson (Out — On Assignment), Sharife Cooper (Out — Two Way), Lou Williams (Game Time Decision — Hamstring)

What To Watch For

  • The Spurs had their busiest trade deadline in franchise history, parting ways with Derrick White, Thaddeus Young, Drew Eubanks, and Juancho Hernangomez. In return, PATFO added Goran Dragic, Tomas Satoransky, Romeo Langford, Josh Richardson, and plenty of draft compensation. As is the case with most newly acquired players, it could take a day or two before anyone from this group is ready to suit up for the Silver and Black. With reports that San Antonio might buy out Dragic and Satoransky, it is entirely possible neither of them ever play a single minute for head coach Gregg Popovich. But since all these moves are hot off the press, the good guys will probably be a bit shorthanded against the Atlanta Hawks. That means guys like Zach Collins, Jock Landale, Keita Bates-Diop, and Tre Jones must make the most of their minutes if San Antonio wants to knock off an Atlanta squad that has won nine of their last 12 games.
  • Moving Derrick White freed up 30.3 minutes per game and a spot in the starting lineup, and someone is going to have to fill the void left behind now that the 27-year-old combo guard is a member of the Boston Celtics. While the logical choice for his replacement in the opening lineup is Devin Vassell, Pop could throw Josh Primo into the fire to maintain the integrity of the second unit. Perhaps Lonnie Walker IV could get one last chance to prove he deserves a second contract from the Spurs, but the fourth-year swingman is coming off a season-low 11 minutes in a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Whatever the case, this should be a situation worth monitoring. Vassell, Walker, and Primo each bring a unique dynamic to the table, and San Antonio could end up divulging their plans for their trio of guards for the rest of the season.
  • San Antonio sported a respectable 16-19 record when Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Jakob Poeltl played together this season. They were an abysmal 4-16 when at least one of that trio was out, which could spell trouble for their play-in hopes now that White is no longer in the 2-1-0. Derrick was one of the most integral cogs for the Spurs on both ends of the court, ranking among the team leaders in points, steals, blocks, free throw attempts, assists, drives, charges drawn, and minutes played. As discussed earlier, his departure opens opportunities for others across the roster. However, it could also force Dejounte Murray to pick up the slack, and the first-time All-Star is already spread incredibly thin. The sixth-year point guard touches the ball more times per game than anyone in the NBA outside of LaMelo Ball, Fred VanVleet, LeBron James, Luka Doncic, James Harden, and Nikola Jokic. Per BBall Index, Dejounte also owns the highest matchup difficulty rating on the Spurs. Murray will need help to keep the Spurs from bottoming out, and that starts with getting some assistance shutting down Trae Young.

For the Hawks fans’ perspective, please visit Peachtree Hoops.

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.