The San Antonio Spurs finally looked a bit more like the team we will see come October 25 when the regular season begins. That meant a glimpse at the starting five consisting of Jeremy Sochan, Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, Victor Wembanyama and Zach Collins. The “tall ball” lineup was effective, leading the Spurs to a 117-103 win over the Houston Rockets.
Friday night will provide this new lineup with its first major test. The Golden State Warriors are undefeated, and in their previous matchup with the Sacramento Kings, played the majority of their rotation in all four quarters. Stephen Curry hit a game winning three-pointer to ice the Kings. Curry and company will be by-far the best team the Spurs have faced all preseason, and will be a good gauge for where the Silver and Black are going into the regular season.
San Antonio Spurs (2-2) at Golden State Warriors (4-0)
October 20, 2023 | 9 P.M. CT
Watch: KENS-TV 5/NBA TV | Listen: WOAI/KXTN
Spurs injuries: None
Warriors injuries: Kevon Looney – Questionable (illness,) Rodney McGruder – Questionable (concussion,) Draymond Green – Questionable (ankle)
What to watch for
Can tall ball trump small ball?
San Antonio vs. Golden State will feature a clash of styles. With Kevon Looney and Draymond Green out of the lineup, the Warriors have run a smaller lineup that really stretches the floor with Dario Saric getting the bulk of the center minutes. They will look to get dribble penetration and spray out to their shooters, or find Curry, Thompson and other off screen for three.
The Spurs screen navigation has been steadily improving all preseason. They’ve let teams like the Miami Heat get hot from deep, but that was before this uber long lineup came into the fold. This will be a good test to see how this group defends a bevy of shooters, and just how disruptive their defense can be.
Securing the glass
The Spurs have been struggling to win the battle on the boards all preseason. They’ve been out rebounded in three of their four games. They’ve given up over 10 offensive rebounds in three of their four games. You’d think with so much size, they would be dominating the rebounding game.
Often times it seems they are looking to leak out in transition, rather than send multiple men to the defensive glass. Golden State has players who can punish you on the boards if you don’t box out, and giving second looks to such an efficient offense is rarely something teams can survive. Look for the Silver and Black to take a step in the right direction on the glass in San Francisco.
Can Wembanyama find his rhythm?
Last game was a forgettable one for the Spurs first-overall pick. Wembanyama 15 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks on just 3-10 shooting from the field. He never quite found his touch on his jump shot, and the Rockets did a good job not letting him get easy looks in the paint. Despite that, he did a great job drawing fouls, making seven of his eight free throw attempts.
If Golden State doesn’t have Green or Looney, Wemby should have a soft interior line facing him. This seems like a prime opportunity for the rookie to gain back some of his rhythm heading into the season opener next Wednesday.