San Antonio Spurs News

San Antonio Spurs: Will Suns’ Devin Booker unleash after shaky performances?

By Rob Wolkenbrod
DENVER, CO - JANUARY 03: Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns sets the play against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on January 3, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JANUARY 03: Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns sets the play against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on January 3, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images)
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The San Antonio Spurs already faced the Phoenix Suns twice, with Devin Booker being a nonfactor. Will this change on Friday night?

On Friday night, the San Antonio Spurs will return home to face the Phoenix Suns. It’s the third time these teams played each other in the 2017-18 season, with the Silver and Black winning both games by a combined 20 points.

The Suns bring potential All-Star Devin Booker to the table. Arguably one of the NBA’s best shooting guards, he leads the team in scoring at 25 points per game on 44.4 percent shooting (38.4 percent from 3-point range). So far, so good for him, right?

Well, Booker will duel with the Spurs, a team he didn’t fair well against. In their Nov. 5 matchup, the former Kentucky star had just 9 points on 3-for-11 shooting. That was with Danny Green, formerly on the All-NBA Defensive Second Team in 2016-17, defending him.

These struggles against San Antonio aren’t exactly new, however. Booker posted the following stat lines vs. this team since entering the NBA:

  • Loss vs. Spurs on Nov. 23, 2015: 4 points on 2-for-5 shooting (0-for-2 from 3-point range)
  • Loss vs. Spurs on Dec. 30, 2015: 9 points on 4-for-10 shooting (0-for-1 from 3-point range)
  • Loss vs. Spurs on Jan. 21, 2016: 24 points on 8-for-16 shooting (2-for-6 from 3-point range)
  • Loss vs. Spurs on Feb. 21, 2016: 10 points on 3-for-9 shooting (1-for-2 from 3-point range)
  • Loss vs. Spurs on Dec. 15, 2016: 17 points on 6-for-19 shooting (2-for-6 from 3-point range)
  • Loss vs. Spurs on Dec. 28, 2016: 8 points on 2-for-13 shooting (0-for-2 from 3-point range)
  • Win vs. Spurs on Jan. 14, 2017: 39 points on 12-for-22 shooting (3-for-5 from 3-point range)
  • Loss vs. Spurs on Nov. 5, 2017: 9 points on 3-for-11 shooting (1-for-5 from 3-point range)
  • Loss vs. Spurs on Dec. 9, 2017: DNP (injury)

It equates to 38 percent shooting and 24.1 percent from long distance for 15 points per game. It’s when below Booker’s career line of 19.1 points on 42.7 percent shooting and 36.1 percent from 3-point range.

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Do the Spurs have Booker in check? Aside from one very good game and an outlier performance on Jan. 14, 2017, San Antonio has shut him down.

In the latest game, San Antonio forced the third-year pro to take difficult shots. All three of his makes were from outside the paint, one of which was a long 2-pointer. It can be seen in ESPN’s shot chart from Nov. 5.

Will Booker’s fortunes change on Friday? Green won’t play due to a groin injury. This potentially leaves Kawhi Leonard on him, unless the Klaw gets tasked to take on the taller TJ Warren. If the latter is the case, then look for Bryn Forbes to go head-to-head with this rising star. That’s a potential matchup to exploit, unless head coach Gregg Popovich gets crafty and replaces Green with someone different, which would be a change from the norm.

What also swings in Booker’s favor? He scored fewer than 20 points in just two of the past 10 games he played in.

Next: Top 25 players in Spurs history

The Spurs and Suns will hit the court at 8:30 p.m. ET.

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