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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Utah Jazz

Can the Silver and Black clinch the all-time regular-season wins record for head coach Gregg Popovich?

Utah Jazz v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Darren Carroll/NBAE via Getty Images

The San Antonio Spurs crumbled in the fourth quarter as Dejounte Murray momentarily exited the matchup after a head-first collision left him with a gash on his forehead. Despite holding even with Toronto Raptors for most of the contest, their Eastern Conference adversary saw an opportunity to make a run, and they stormed ahead down the stretch.

The Silver and Black whiffed their first chance to get Gregg Popovich the all-time regular-season wins record, but they will have another shot when they welcome the Utah Jazz to the AT&T Center on Friday night. Although Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert pose a formidable challenge, a victory against a contender could fuel a last-minute play-in push.

San Antonio Spurs (25-41) vs. Utah Jazz (41-24)

March 11, 2022 | 7:30 PM CT

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

DraftKings Odds: Spurs +6, O/U 229

Spurs Injuries: Romeo Langford (Out — Hamstring), D.J. Stewart (Out — Two Way), Robert Woodard II (Out — Two Way), Keita Bates-Diop (Doubtful — Back), Josh Primo (Doubtful — Illness), Devonta Cacok (Probable — Heel)

Jazz Injuries: Bojan Bogdanovic (Out — Leg)

What To Watch For

  • When it comes to scoring the basketball, Donovan Mitchell and Dejounte Murray are nothing alike aesthetically. But both guards have torched their opponents since the February 10th trade deadline, averaging right around 26.0 points per game over that span. Dejounte has made a living finishing at the rim and hitting 16-footers. Mitchell has drained 39.4% of his insane 10.9 three-point attempts while finding his way to the free-throw line 5.9 times per game. Both of these All-Stars are on heaters as their clubs head in opposite directions, but this head-to-head matchup should be the best part about this Western Conference clash. As long as Murray can contain his backcourt counterpart, the Spurs should have a chance to upset Utah and inch closer towards the play-in tournament.
  • Only two teams have witnessed more midrange attempts per game from their opponents than Utah this season, and it makes sense why so many players would prefer trying their luck away from the rim with Rudy Gobert protecting the paint. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year sets the tone for the Jazz and their tenth-ranked defense. The 29-year-old center has contested the fourth-most shots in the NBA and held his assignments 5.6% below their expected field goal percentage, good for the fifth-best mark in the league. Though the Spurs have pivoted away from attempting as many midrange jumpers as they did a season ago, they might fall back into a pattern of long twos if Gobert forces their hand. San Antonio should at least consider challenging the Frenchman at the basket to get him into foul trouble. Hassan Whiteside also swats his fair share of shots, but he is far less impactful on both ends than the three-time All-Star.
  • Utah has made 15.9 three-pointers per game at a 38.3% clip since the All-Star Break, rating second and seventh respectively in those categories in the NBA over that period. The Spurs have let their opponents shoot 37.8% from beyond the arc during that same stretch, and that could become an issue if they can’t get a handle on the sharpshooters arriving at the AT&T Center on Friday night. Danuel House, Royce O’Neal, Mike Conley, Jared Butler, Eric Paschall, and Donovan Mitchell all rest above league-average from three-point-land (35%), and any one of them could punish the Silver and Black. San Antonio will probably need some long-distance firepower from Doug McDermott, Keldon Johnson, Josh Richardson, Devin Vassell, and Lonnie Walker IV to keep pace with the Jazz.

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