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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Sacramento Kings

Can the Silver and Black get back in the win column after a rough start to the new year?

Sacramento Kings v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Darren Carroll/NBAE via Getty Images

The San Antonio Spurs are fresh off a blowout at the hands of the Golden State Warriors in front of a record-setting crowd of 68,323 screaming fans in their highly-anticipated Alamodome homecoming on Friday night. They must now put that loss in the rearview mirror as they return to the familiar confines of the AT&T Center for a date with the Sacramento Kings.

Head Coach Gregg Popovich has tried his best to instill a solid foundation in his young roster, and tonight could provide another learning experience for a squad that struggles to defend. De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis spearhead one of the most effective offenses in basketball, and the Silver and Black will have to pay close attention to detail to keep pace.

San Antonio Spurs (13-30) vs. Sacramento Kings (23-18)

January 15, 2022 | 6:00 PM CST

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

Spurs: Dominick Barlow (Out — Two-Way), Charles Bassey (Out — Two-Way), Devin Vassell (Out — Knee), Doug McDermott (Questionable — Back)

Kings: Neemias Queta (Out — Two-Way), Keon Ellis (Out — Two-Way), Kevin Huerter (Questionable — Illness)

What To Watch For

  • Tre Jones has been a revelation for the Spurs despite their horrendous 1-6 opening to the new year. The young floor general has flourished on the offensive end, averaging 20.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 5.2 assists across his last five contests while shooting 50% from the field, 40% from beyond the arc, and a perfect 16-of-16 from the free throw line. Jones also etched his name into the history books on Friday night, joining Dejounte Murray, James Silas, Tony Parker, and Johnny Dawkins as the only point guards in franchise history to score at least 18 points in five consecutive games. His increased productivity has been vital to keeping San Antonio competitive during its recent losing skid. And Head Coach Gregg Popovich will need the former second-rounder to maintain his form for the Silver and Black to have a chance at knocking off the fourth-place Kings.
  • De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis have been a surprisingly lethal one-two punch for Sacramento this season, with each player putting together a convincing case to earn a nomination as a Western Conference All-Star. The former is averaging 23.8 points and 6.1 assists per game in the most efficient season of his career, and the latter is the only center aside from Nikola Jokic on the cusp of a nightly triple-double. Former Spurs assistant Mike Brown has taken advantage of the game-breaking speed and insane top-of-the-key playmaking of Fox and Sabonis to generate the highest-scoring offense in the NBA (119.7 PPG). Their fast-paced attack is teeming with unselfish passing, purposeful off-ball movement, and versatile three-point shooters. San Antonio has the worst defense in the league by nearly every imaginable measure, so don’t be surprised if the Spurs participate in another back-and-forth affair.
  • Blake Wesley checked into a game for the Spurs for the first time since he sprained his MCL on October 30, and while he only logged two points and two turnovers in garbage time, he should continue to see rotation minutes from here on out. San Antonio is an abysmal 13-30 with less than a month until the trade deadline, which should bring another essential tonal shift in their rebuilding process. This season has been about player development from the moment it began, but PATFO shouldn’t be afraid to lean full-tilt into getting their youngsters as much NBA experience as possible. Losing stinks, and the lottery system doesn’t necessarily reward blatant tanking. However, with generational teenage prospects like Scoot Henderson and Victor Wembanyama, the Silver and Black might as well give themselves the best possible chance at swaying the odds in their favor. Perhaps we’ll see less of Josh Richardson and Doug McDermott and more from the trio of 2022 first-round picks.

For the Kings fans’ perspective, please visit Sactown Royalty.

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.