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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Atlanta Hawks

Wembanyama returns as Spurs kick off five-game road trip in Atlanta on MLK Jr. Day.

Atlanta Hawks v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images

The San Antonio Spurs are hitting the road for a five-game road trip starting with a matchup against the Atlanta Hawks. Despite a close loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night, the Spurs are running on a high fueled by some strong play in the last five games. Alternatively, the Hawks are on a skid, losing four of their last five contests. With trade rumors surrounding the franchise, Atlanta has fallen out of the playoff picture in the East.

The game takes place on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Hawks and Spurs will honor the iconic figure in the city where he grew up. The celebration of one of the most important people in civil rights history stands as a reminder that there are some things that are bigger than basketball.

San Antonio Spurs (7-31) at Atlanta Hawks (15-23)

January 15, 2024 | 2:30 PM CT

Watch: TNT | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: Charles Bassey – Out (left knee,) Sidy Cissoko – Out (G League,) Zach Collins – Out (right ankle,) David Duke Jr. – Out (G League,) Doug McDermott – Questionable (right ankle,) Dominick Barlow – Questionable (G League)

Hawks Injuries: Kobe Bufkin – Out (G League,) Mouhamed Gueye – Out (low back,) De’Andre Hunter – Out (right knee,) Vit Krejci – Out (left shoulder,) Wesley Matthews – Out (right calf)

What to watch for

Containing Trae Young

The Atlanta Hawks put up a lot of points. They average 121.7 points, good enough for fourth in the NBA. Their offensive attack is lead by their point guard, Trae Young. He’s averaging 27.2 points and 10.9 assists while hitting over 3 triples a game. In San Antonio’s only matchup with the Hawks this season, he scored 45 points with 14 assists.

Atlanta’s defense is vulnerable, but their offense thrives when ran through Young. The point guard has a 31.2% usage percentage. If San Antonio can cut off the head of the snake, they can slow down Atlanta’s offense.

What will Wembanyama do next?

Victor Wembanyama is currently on the best stretch of his young NBA career. In his last five games, Wembanyama is averaging 22.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and is shooting 50% from the field. He’s been a joy to watch this month despite playing under 25-minutes a game. The minutes restriction will still be on in Atlanta, but The Spurs start should thrive against the Hawks flimsy defense.

The only question is what will he do next? He seemingly tops himself night after night. Fans should be on the edge of their seats to see just what the show-stopping rookie will pull out of his bag of tricks.

Tre Jones running the show

Coincidentally (or not, depending on who you ask) the strong play of Wembanyama has happened while Tre Jones entered the starting lineup. As a starter, Jones is averaging 16.6 points and 5.2 assists while shooting 50% (!!) from three point range. He was great against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday, putting up 30 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists, hitting 4-6 three-pointers.

San Antonio’s offense is running much smoother with the point guard at the helm. This has been abundantly clear in the third quarter, where the Spurs had struggled before Jones entered the first five. With Jones starting, they have won five-straight third quarters. Atlanta’s defense allows 124.1 points a game. The Spurs floor general can help them pick the Hawks apart on Monday.