After a thrilling come-from-behind win against the Suns on Tuesday, the Spurs will head right back to the same arena to face the same team today to complete the road miniseries. (Ironically, the Spurs’ two home games against the Suns will also be in the miniseries format all the way in the last week of March. A healthy Suns team should be contenders at that point, but it will be interesting to see where the Spurs stand by then.)
After it looked like the Spurs were going to struggle their way to a second straight blowout loss against a should-be contender two nights ago, they somehow pulled themselves back up by the bootstraps in the second half, led by heroics from Keldon Johnson, Victor Wembanyama, and Devin Vassell, and pulled out the improbable 20-point second half rally in the final second of the game. Can they do it again, or will the Suns be out for revenge?
San Antonio Spurs (2-2) vs. Phoenix Suns (2-2)
November 2, 2023 | 9:00 P.M. CT
Watch: Bally Sports, NBATV | Listen: WOAI/KXTN
Spurs injuries: Charles Bediako — Out (G League assignment), Sidy Cissoko — Out (G League assignment), Sir’Jabari Rice — Out (G League assignment)
Suns injuries: Bradley Beal — Out (lower back), Devin Booker — Doubtful (left ankle), Damion Lee — Out (right knee)
What to watch for
Getting Wembanyama going earlier
It has been annoying for some fans to see Wemby subbed in and out so often, especially whenever it seems like he’s finally getting on a roll. That was the case in Tuesday’s matchup, when he was hot to open the fourth quarter but sat between the seven and two-minute marks, but it’s important to remember he’s still getting into NBA shape and will need time before he’s ready for longer stints on the floor. Better he finish the game strong than be gassed in crunch time since he’s currently a league leader in that department.
That being said, related or not, he has had a hard time earlier in the games, and as much as we love Fourth Quarter Wemby, they wouldn’t need his heroics as much if they weren’t having to come from behind so often. So far, both of the Spurs’ wins have featured double-digit rallies, and as exciting as that can be every now and then (and it’s nice to know they are capable of it, unlike last season), that’s not a sustainable way to keep winning. Both the Spurs and Wemby need start finding ways to get going earlier in the game, and a good start would be getting him established down low earlier instead of settling for threes. It’s currently a balancing act between feeding him and keeping everyone else active, but sooner or later they’ll need to find the solution.
Miniseries present an interesting challenge for both teams, something that otherwise is only seen in playoff series: a chance to immediately regroup and adjust to the same team in consecutive games. It already feels like this second game can go one of two ways: either the Spurs will build on the momentum they created with the thrilling win and come out much stronger, or the Suns (who have had documented 4th quarter struggles without Booker and Beal) will take offense and be out for blood. (Although maybe the Last Two Minute Report will put a damper on their anger, considering it was determined that Kevin Durant was NOT fouled by Tre Jones on the Spurs’ final play).
If the Spurs hope to avoid the revenge loss and complete the extremely rare road miniseries sweep, it will have to start with them hitting their threes. After two-and-a-half games of struggling in that department, they finally got going in the second half on Tuesday, hitting ten threes to help complete the comeback. That would especially help with the aforementioned issue of getting Wemby going earlier, as the defense can’t swarm him down low if they have to respect the Spurs’ shooters. If the Spurs come out flat again, don’t expect Durant and company to let them back into the game this time, but if they come out strong? Anything can happen.
For the Suns fans perspective, visit Bright Side of the Sun.
You can follow along with the game on our X/Twitter profile (@poundingtherock) or visit the Game Thread!