The San Antonio Spurs routed the shorthanded Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night as Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassel, Tre Jones and Josh Primo combined to replace Dejounte Murray. Although the good guys have beaten their fellow Western Conference contender twice in the past two weeks, they will have to prove they can do it again on Sunday.
The Silver and Black are now looking to end their three-game homestand with a convincing victory as their place in the play-in tournament hangs in the balance in the final days of the regular season. And while yours truly is usually too far away or busy writing to enjoy these contests like an average fan, be sure to keep an eye out for me cheering in the stands at the AT&T Center.
San Antonio Spurs (32-45) against Portland Trail Blazers (27-50)
April 3, 2022 | 6:00 PM CT
Watch: Bally Sports South West | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
DraftKings Odds: Spurs -14.5, O/U 230
Spurs injuries: Doug McDermott (Out – Ankle), Robert Woodard II (Out – Two Way), DJ Stewart (Out – Two Way), Dejounte Murray (Doubtful – Illness), Josh Primo (Likely – Hamstrings)
Blazer injuries: Nassir Little (Out – Shoulder), Joe Ingles (Out – Knee), Damian Lillard (Out – Abdomen), Anfernee Simons (Out – Knee), Jusuf Nurkic (Out – Foot), Josh Hart (Out – Knee), Eric Bledsoe (Out – Achilles), Justise Winslow (Out – Calf), Trendon Watford (Game Time Decision – Leg)
- What do Damian Lillard, Nassir Little, Jusuf Nurkic, Anfernee Simons, Joe Ingles and Eric Bledsoe have in common? Portland closed them for the rest of the season. Josh Hart and Judge Winslow will also be off duty on Sunday, and there should be no doubt as to whether or not they’ve been on the phone for the rest of their schedules. This byte averaged a combined 103.8 points per game, which is an almost impossible amount of production to replicate. Head coach Chauncey Billups tried to use a variety of second strings, substitutes and ten-day contract signers to fill in the gaps. But this roster lacks the talent to compete with almost any decent team. The opponents have outscored the Trail Blazers by 20.1 points per game since Feb. 24. Why not put that number into perspective? The 7-59 Charlotte Bobcats, widely recognized as one of the worst clubs in league history, only had an average net rating of -13.9 in the 2011-12 season.
- Dejounte Murray missed Portland’s previous contest with an upper respiratory condition, but San Antonio shouldn’t be in a rush to rush their All-Star point guard to the field if he’s not 100 percent. While his absence usually spells trouble for Spurs, the rest of the starting lineup and reserves should have enough composure and chemistry to steer the Blazers away without drama. Refining skills on the ball is one of the most crucial parts of young core development. Getting main rep groups from Keldon Johnson, Josh Primo, Devin Vassell, Tre Jones and Lonnie Walker IV could one day do a lot for their self-creation and game. Sunday is the perfect low-stakes game for them to reinforce their confidence, so why not put the ball in their hands and watch them go to work? The Silver and Black have been on a heliocentric attack around Dejounte for most of the season, but maybe they can ease his shoulders if a few of these guys start to flourish as goalscorers or essential passers.
- The Spurs once again overtook Los Angeles to take control of the tenth seed in the Western Conference standings a few nights ago, and they now have a full game ahead of their longtime antagonist in the play race. -in. Are the Lakers likely to catch San Antonio anytime soon? With the third force remaining in the league schedule and a fifth consecutive defeat on Friday night, the Purple and Gold are well placed to go down in flames as their aging set of overwhelmed veterans whiz their way to the finish line. Although head coach Gregg Popovich and company were the benefactors of a light slate in the final stretch of the regular season, this young team deserves credit for taking care of business with their playoff fate. . This tilt with the Trail Blazers is perhaps the last advantageous game before ending the year against the Nuggets, Wolves, Warriors and Mavericks. Defeating another beatable opponent should give San Antonio adequate cushioning on the purple and gold, regardless of how everything else shakes.
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