The San Antonio Spurs have been somewhat inconsistent over the first thirteen games of the season.
A lot of this was to be expected: not only is their new All-NBA guard DeMar DeRozan still getting acclimated to the Spurs’ system, but their point guard depth took a major blow to start the season. Many of the Spurs’ more experienced vets like Pau Gasol and Rudy Gay have also had to sit as coach Gregg Popovich manages his team’s minutes early in the season.
You can usually expect solid effort from the Spurs under Coach Pop and to nobody’s surprise, stars DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge have led the way for the majority of the year.
Aldridge has not been quite as dominant as he was last year. This is understandable considering he no longer has the ball in his hands for the majority of the game with DeRozan taking the lion’s share of touches, but the Spurs will need Aldridge to be the dominant big man he has shown he can be if they are to crack 50 wins in the formidable Western Conference.
The San Antonio Spurs have lost both games on their current West Coast road trip, and now travel to Staples Center to face the 8-5 Los Angeles Clippers.
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While the Spurs lost a relatively close game to the Kings on Monday night, they lost by twenty points to the Phoenix Suns last night, a team that they had beat by 30 points earlier this year. However, that previous Spurs victory was with both Pau Gasol and Rudy Gay playing about twenty minutes each and both of them were out on Wednesday night.
The Clippers are riding a two-game winning streak of overtime victories and look to be a solid playoff-caliber team.
They are deep at every position, with a defensive-minded starting point guard in Patrick Beverley (who happens to be very familiar with the Spurs) and plenty of front-court rebounding and defense courtesy of recent breakout Montrezl Harrell, who has been coming off the bench to average 14.5 points and 7.6 rebounds in 23 minutes per game, and Marcin Gortat.
Los Angeles also has versatile scorers in Lou Williams, Tobias Harris, Danilo Gallinari, and potentially Avery Bradley (who is listed as questionable with an ankle injury), as well as rookie guard Shai-Gilgeous Alexander who looks to be an absolute steal at the eleventh pick in the 2018 draft.
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The Spurs need to be worried about a couple of things.
They have to figure out where their scoring and playmaking is going to come from. If Gay and Gasol are still out, someone other than DeMar DeRozan has to step up. DeRozan has shown that he can consistently fill up the box score during his brief tenure in San Antonio, but somebody else needs to help him carry the load on offense.
Spurs fans also need to hope that LaMarcus Aldridge will have a bounce-back game after only making three of twelve shots last night against Phoenix. Aldridge will have another tough go against Gortat and Harrell just a night after he had to match up with DeAndre Ayton, the #1 pick in the draft.
A win in L.A. on Thursday night would go a long way in breaking out of their recent funk.