Phoenix at San Antonio
Time: 7:30 PM CT, NBA LP
Spread: SAS -13
Odds c/o 5dimes
SAN ANT TEAM NOTES:
The San Antonio Spurs have won five of its last 10 games and are currently 29-22. The Spurs trail the Houston Rockets by one game in the Southwest Division standings, and this is a team truly without as much talent as Houston but it does possess one of the greatest coaches of all-time in Gregg Popovich. The Spurs replaced do-it-all forward Kawhi Leonard with 2-guard DeMar DeRozan this offseason, but this is not a Spurs team resplendent with offensive talents. LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay are both very solid strong veterans, but the rest of the roster is a rag-tag collection of players Popovich has found every way to maximize the respective talents of.
DeRozan and Aldridge combine to score 42.2 points per game, but the offense has hardly been a problem for this Spurs team which averages 112.3 points per game. Bryn Forbes has evolved into a very useful guard and is averaging 13.6 points per game, and Marco Belinelli is still a sharpshooter who thrives in the right system. The Spurs are hoping Derrick White can become a star, and he has looked good in his 22 starts this season.
Even Jakob Poeltl has found his defensive calling under Popovich and though he plays just 15 minutes a game, the Spurs utilize an 11-man rotation and call deep into its bench.??Veteran and future Hall of Famer Pau Gasol has missed the majority of the season and was already looking as though he hit the inevitable career-type-ending “wall.” Even without Gasol, the Spurs manage to get five points or more from 10 different players and keep a fresh rotation the court. Pop always finds new ways to reinvent his same schemes, and the effect is a team seven games above .500 after losing an MVP caliber talent this offseason. San Antonio could not really reasonably expect any better than this.
PHX TEAM NOTES:
The Phoenix Suns are just 11-41 this season, possessing a bottom-third defense that allows 115.5 points per game while the Suns manage to score just 105.8 itself, ranking worst in the Association. The point differential is -9.7.
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 24.3 points per game and 6.8 assists, but his efficiency has been questionable with a PER Of just 18.4 due to his 45 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 18 points per game in just over 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 16.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.77 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….
The biggest hole is at point guard where Phoenix recently cut 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 defensive identity, where it currently has none save its sieve identity in giving up so many while scoring so few itself. Phoenix is a disaster entirely, but it will try to build around its two studs– Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton–with yet another high draft pick in 2019.