The San Antonio Spurs return to the west coast for two games before hosting Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks to wrap up their week.
My prediction record has gone like the San Antonio Spurs‘ season so far: up and down with no discernable pattern. After going 1-3 two weeks ago, I saved my record with a 3-1 week, including somehow correctly predicting the Rockets’ unlikely victory in San Antonio. As the Spurs look to face three superstar guards this week, the tough task will be determining which version of the team we’ll see each night.
The Spurs have been consistently inconsistent this season, boasting huge wins over the LA Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers before suffering losses to the short-handed Timberwolves and Rockets. The only constant so far has been that the Silver and Black have played up or down according to their competition level.
In some good news, the team has shown they can still win without having lights-out nights from the outside. The Spurs haven’t shot above 29 percent from deep in their last four games but still won two of them.
So far, San Antonio has been shooting better from beyond the arc than at home, sinking 37.8 percent compared to 34.3 at home. While it’s good to know they don’t live or die by the three, it’ll still be crucial in this week’s two-game road trip.
Here are my predictions for how the Spurs will fare this week.
Next: Game No. 1
1. San Antonio Spurs @ Portland Trail Blazers, 1/18 @ 3 pm ET
The Spurs have benefitted from some unfortunate injuries in the young season, and that will continue with Sunday’s MLK Day game against the Portland Trail Blazers. After they recently lost Jusuf Nurkic to a right wrist fracture, Portland also lost C.J. McCollum to a foot sprain on Saturday.
Of course, after the way San Antonio played in both games against a handicapped Rockets squad, maybe missing some key guys will actually help Portland. Without McCollum, Portland will likely turn to Gary Trent or Anfernee Simons to get the start. Without C.J. and Jusuf, the Blazers will be missing nearly 32 percent of their offensive production.
Damian Lillard, with the help of C.J, Carmelo Anthony, and newcomers Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr, has Portland sitting at fifth in the Western Conference with a record of 8-5 heading into Monday’s matchup.
The big key for the Spurs will be their ability to run Portland off of the 3-point line. The Blazers have been deadly from beyond the arc, nailing 16.3 per game in 42.9 attempts. McCollum is responsible for 11 attempts per game, so I would expect Trent and Simons to fire away from deep more often than usual in his absence. With Trent being a 44.3 percent outside shooter this season, the Spurs can’t afford to lose track of him like they’ve been losing track of shooters all season.
I expect a relatively clean game from both sides Monday as the Spurs and Blazers are first and second in limiting turnovers. This one will likely come down to the wire, but I think San Antonio finally shows poise against an undermanned team.
Final Score prediction: Spurs 108, Blazers 103
Next: Game No. 2
2. San Antonio Spurs @ Golden State Warriors, 1/20 @ 10 pm ET
After their reign as one of the league’s elite ended dramatically last season, the Golden State Warriors have been back to their pesky ways. Despite another extremely unfortunate setback for Klay Thompson that will see him miss another full season, the Warriors are still playing .500 basketball after 12 games.
Granted, four of Golden State’s six wins have come against teams that are under .500, but they’ve tabulated wins over the Portland Trail Blazers and LA Clippers as well. As expected, the Warriors’ biggest weapon has been pace of play, as their 104.7 possessions per 48 minutes are second in the Association.
Stephen Curry is making an early case for MVP with is averages of 28.4 points, 6.2 assists, and 5.6 rebounds per game on 44.7 percent shooting. Andrew Wiggins has become his wingman, pitching in 17.8 points and 4.7 rebounds a night.
Last season, the Spurs won both games against Steve Kerr’s ballclub, with Patty Mills having two of his best games of the year in each. In last November’s matchup, Mills buried six of his nine attempts from the outside to finish with 31 points. In fact, Patty’s career-high of 34 points also came against the Warriors in 2012. He’ll be one to watch as the Spurs visit Chase Center.
This one is a toss-up, but I’ll slightly favor a Spurs team that has won five of seven on the road.
Final Score prediction: Spurs 114, Warriors 107
Next: Game No. 3
3. Dallas Mavericks @ San Antonio Spurs, 1/22 @ 8:30 pm ET
The battle against elite point guards concludes with a faceoff against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks on Friday evening. Coming into the season as the favorite to win the NBA’s most prestigious individual award, Doncic hasn’t disappointed so far.
The third-year guard is dominating opponents to the tune of 27.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game. Last season, he averaged 28.8 points, 9.0 boards, and 8.6 assists in four games against the Spurs, leading to three Maverick victories.
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Kristaps Porzingis has been battling injuries this season but is expected to be available for Dallas’ back-to-back games beginning Sunday evening.
Like the Spurs, Dallas relies on a team effort on offense, with six players averaging over 10 points per game. They also take care of the ball well, averaging a fourth-best 13.0 turnovers per game.
Last season, the Spurs couldn’t do anything to stop Doncic, but then again, they had guys like Bryn Forbes and Marco Belinelli guarding him at times.
While I don’t expect Keldon Johnson or Dejounte Murray to necessarily stop him, I think having better team defense overall can slow him down better than it did last season.
San Antonio only faces Dallas once in the first half of the season, and my gut feeling is they let this one get away from them at home.
Final Score prediction: Mavericks 109, Spurs 100
Current season prediction record: 6-7