Phoenix at San Antonio
Time: 7:30 PM CT
Spread: SAS -12.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The San Antonio Spurs are 13-14 and have split its last 10 games. Pau Gasol is out indefinitely with a stress fracture, but that is no major loss as the veteran’s minutes have vastly decreased and he is scarcely a picture of the core unit, anymore. Gasol was averaging just 17 minutes a game prior to sustaining the injury, and in his stead expect Davis Bertans and Jakob Poeltl to absorb the extra minutes.??The Spurs clearly are not the same vaunted team without its core players of seasons past:
Gone are Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan, while Tony Parker is lacing it up for the Charlotte Hornets this season. DeMar DeRozan is the new face of the franchise, and he has played well. DeRozan is averaging 24 points, six rebounds and six assists per game while leading the team in PER (excluding Gasol’s limited play) at 21.1.
LaMarcus Aldridge is a shadow of the player he was in Portland, but he still is playing reasonably well in averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds per game. Gregg Popovich can always seemingly get blood from oranges, but this Spurs team really might be maxing out at its near-.500 record. After DeRozan, Aldridge and veteran Rudy Gay, the Spurs have a ragtag cast of sidekicks that have scarcely made huge impacts in their pro careers.
Short of Derrick White becoming some sort of season savior, it is tough to envision much changing for the Spurs. White began the season injured but has now started in six games, and he is averaging five points and two assists in his 12 appearances total this season. It is not exactly the kind of start from the youngster that spells “season savior.” This may be the Spurs worst season ever under Gregg Popovich, but the management in San Antonio will relish the chance to draft high in 2019, given its acumen for pulling the top players with far worse picks.
The Phoenix Suns are just 4-23 this season, possessing a bottom-third defense that allows 114.1 points per game while the Suns manage to score just 104.1 itself, ranking worst in the Association. The point differential is -10.0.
Phoenix has a few great top talents, but it cannot seem to find much rhythm or continuity on the defensive end. Devin
Booker is averaging 24.5 points per game and 7.0 assists, but his efficiency has been questionable with a PER Of just 17.3 due to his 44 percent shooting and 31 percent three-point shooting. TJ Warren has rounded into one of the better undersized forwards in the league, but his tough defense has gone unnoticed on a team so poor in that respect. Warren also averages 17.6 points per game in just under 30 minutes a night.??The Suns have been quite pleased with No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton. Ayton looks seasoned and is a good rim protector. He is averaging 17.7 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.48 blocks/steals per game. The Suns ideally would like him to swat more shots, but his overall defense has been solid for a rookie. Outside of that top-3, the Suns start to fall off. Trevor Ariza is playing his role, but it is a role on a team that needs more than solid veterans in the starting line. Ariza averages under 10 points per game.
The biggest hole is at point guard where Phoenix starts young journeyman Isaiah Canaan. And Josh Jackson has fallen out of the starting lineup, seeing just 17 minutes a game to average seven points per contest. The Suns have some nice pieces intact at the top of the roster but need depth, a point guard, and a defensive identity, where it currently has none save its sieve identity in giving up so many while scoring so few itself.