An important two-game road trip commences for the San Antonio Spurs in Salt Lake City, where a desperate Utah Jazz team tries to get back on track.
The San Antonio Spurs are coming off an important victory against the Portland Trailblazers. DeMar DeRozan had to play at a high level during the second half in order to secure the win.
If we were to judge the team’s defensive efforts based on the numbers from that game alone, the indication would be that the team hasn’t gotten any better defensively. However, those numbers are a little misleading.
Yes, the Blazers shot 52% from the field, but the Silver and Black demonstrated a sense of urgency that had been lacking in previous matchups leading up to that game.
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An adjustment that delivered improvement was Davis Bertans‘ addition to the starting lineup. Bertans’ presence in the lineup opens up the game for LaMarcus Aldridge and DeRozan, as he cannot be left alone in the perimeter.
The sharpshooting Latvian also displayed tremendous hustle on the defensive end. While he’ll never a great defender based on his physical limitations, he does enough to bother opposing players trying to score.
Expect Coach Popovich to deploy him once again with the starting unit.
Another bright spot in the Portland game came in the form of Derrick White.
He did just about everything, scoring 10 points, pulling down five rebounds, and dishing out six assists. Not only that, but he played outstanding defense against the Blazers down the stretch, helping seal the win for the Silver and Black.
Additionally, White seems to have found effective chemistry with Aldridge in the pick-and-roll. White finished with a +21 in 33 minutes and might have earned a starting spot, or at least increased minutes for the upcoming matchup versus Utah.
There seems to be some really awesome chemistry budding between LaMarcus and Derrick White, they’ve connected on a few plays in the second quarter
— Air Alamo (@AirAlamo) December 3, 2018
The Spurs will be dealing with a struggling Jazz team that, like San Antonio, has only won four out of the last 10 games and find themselves 14th place in the Western Conference. Also like the Spurs, there were high expectations for this team during the start of the regular season with many expecting them to end up with home-court advantage when it came time for the playoffs.
A win for Utah will likely mean that the Spurs and Jazz would swap places in the standings with San Antonio retaking ownership of the 14th place in the conference, so it’s almost a must-win game for each team as a loss will further launch them into the Zion Williamson sweepstakes.
A loss for the Spurs would add to an already frustrating start to the season with fans wondering whether this team has enough to compete in a discombobulated West, or if they should start paying closer attention to NCAA basketball to scope out who San Antonio should select with a lottery pick.
Either way, it should be an interesting matchup that will likely cause disappointment to an already suffering fanbase, let’s hope it’s not the Spurs.
Injury note: The Spurs could see the return of Marco Belinelli to the rotation after dealing with a neck injury. San Antonio will still be without Pau Gasol, Lonnie Walker IV, and Dejounte Murray.
Date: Tuesday, Dec. 4Time: 8:00 p.m. CSTLocation: Salt Lake City, UTVenue: Vivint Smart Home ArenaTV Info: NBA TV and Fox Sports SouthwestLive Stream: Fubo TV