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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Spurs get another shot at the Clippers in second game of mini-series.

Los Angeles Clippers v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

The San Antonio Spurs continued to struggle against the Los Angeles Clippers in their ninth straight loss on Monday night. It was the Spurs 5th loss by 25+ points or more, and their second loss of that kind against the Clippers as they fell 124-99. On Wednesday night, they’ll have another chance to beat a team that has dominated them in two contests.

San Antonio must improve defensively if they want to compete in this game. The Clippers have scored 120+ points in both games against the Spurs. The Silver and Black are 28th in the NBA in defensive rating (120.4.) The Clippers on the other hand are 6th in the NBA in defensive rating (110.2,) and have shut down the Spurs in their two matchups, holding them under 100 points in both games.

San Antonio Spurs (3-11) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (5-7)

November 22, 2023 | 7 P.M. CT

Watch: Bally | Listen: WOAI/KXTN

Spurs injuries: Devin Vassell – Questionable (left adductor)

Clippers injuries: Brandon Boston Jr. – Out (left quad,) Mason Plumlee – Out (left MCL)

What to watch for

Perimeter defense

The Spurs struggled to contain the Clippers on the perimeter in their last game. Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and James Harden proved to be too much for San Antonio’s defense. George finished with 28 points and 6 assists, Leonard had 21 points and Harden put up 13 points and 10 assists in the blowout. Containing that big-three on the perimeter will be a focal point for the Silver and Black.

The Spurs were crushed by the Clippers constant ball movement, as they notched 30 assists on Monday night. They were able to beat the Spurs defense running off of screens, getting to the hoop and kicking out to shooters. San Antonio must communicate with each other and be connected on defense to stop the Clippers improving offensive attack.

The potential return of Devin Vassell

The Spurs could get back one of their leading scorers on Monday. Vassell has missed four games with an adductor injury this season. San Antonio has been secretive about the severity of the injury, but given the upgrade from doubtful to questionable, there is a chance that he could play on Wednesday.

If Vassell returns, he will bring some much needed offense to the Spurs lineup. The wing is one of the few players on the roster who can get himself a bucket when the offense stagnates. He’s averaging 17. 3 points on 49.6% shooting from the field and 43.1% from three. With inconsistent offense plaguing the Spurs over their nine-game losing streak, someone like Vassell should boost their offensive stability.

Where does Wembanyama get the ball

All of a sudden one of the hot topics surrounding the Spurs has become where their number-one overall pick gets the basketball. He’s shooting 66.7% around the rim, but has only taken 72 shots at the basket. Contrast that with the fact that he’s shooting 28.4% from three, where he’s taken 78 shots.

Wembanyama is getting the ball on the perimeter far more often than he does in the post. According to Synergy, he’s spotting up on 18.3% of his offensive possessions. He’s catching it in the post on 14.3% of possessions, and acting as the roller in the pick and roll in 8.6% of his possessions. Clearly getting their 7-foot-4 rookie the ball closer to the rim is advantageous. We will be watching how the Spurs try to accomplish that on Wednesday.