The rodeo road trip has not been kind to the San Antonio Spurs so far. San Antonio is 0-3 to start the trip, and have lost their last 7 games. Miami, Orlando and Brooklyn all gave the Spurs problems with their physicality and length defensively. As their star rookie, Victor Wembanyama, has struggled with fatigue, the team has lost its offensive flow. They may find a reprieve against a struggling Toronto Raptors squad.
Toronto has won just three of their last ten games. After trading away two of their starters in O.G. Anunoby and Pascal Siakam, the Raptors look more like a team heading for the lottery than the playoffs. Which is relevant for the Spurs, who own Toronto’s first round pick, if it falls outside of the top-6 selections.
San Antonio Spurs (10-43) at Toronto Raptors (19-34)
February 12, 2024 | 6:30 PM CT
Watch: BSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Charles Bassey – Out (left knee,) Sidy Cissoko – Out (G League,) David Duke Jr. – Out (G League,) Mamadi Diakite – Out (G League,) Dominick Barlow – Questionable (G League,) Marcus Morris Sr. – Out (not with team)
Raptors Injuries: Javon Liberty-Freeman – Out (G League,) Markquis Nowell – Out (G League)
What to watch for
The Spurs have struggled offensively over the last few games. Part of it seems to be dead legs at the midway point of the season. It also seems like teams have a consistent scout on the Spurs offensive attack – pack the paint, double Wembanyama and make them beat you from deep. San Antonio is the worst three-point shooting team in the NBA. Toronto is in the bottom half of three-point defense.
San Antonio must find counters to the defensive strategy that has slowed them down recently. Guys like Julian Champagnie, Jeremy Sochan and Keldon Johnson hitting outside shots could help open things up for others.
Slowing down Scottie Barnes
The Toronto Raptors may be one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference, but they still have an All Star in Barnes. The wing is averaging 20.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists in the first half of the season. In his last game against the Spurs, he went for 30 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks. If San Antonio lets him get going, they could be in for a long night. They’ll need to force him to become a jump shooter, as he’s shooting just 35.8% from deep this year.
An aggressive Vassell
Devin Vassell had an off game against the Nets. He wasn’t able to get to his spots quite as well as he had in previous contests. The Spurs need him to be aggressive, getting to the rim as well as spacing the floor. Toronto is 23rd in the NBA in defensive rating, and lacks the one-on-one defenders to disrupt Vassell’s rhythm. If he stays aggressive, the wing should be in for a big game.