Boston Celtics at San Antonio Spurs Preview
The Boston Celtics have shot up to the top of the Eastern Conference, winning six straight with a 6-1 record as they enter today’s game on the road against the San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio has not been as successful as they have a 5-3 record, but they were able to get back to their winning ways on Thursday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Spurs have been dominant against the Celtics inside the AT&T Center as Boston has not been able to leave the Alamo City with a win since 2011. They’ll need to buck that trend and end their skid today in order to extend their streak to seven straight wins.
According to the NBA, the Spurs are 44-13 over Boston in all matchups since 1990 and Celtics coach Brad Stevens has only beat Popovich just once in his head coaching career.
Time: 5 PM ET
Arena: AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
Channel: NBCSB, FSSW-SA
Celtics: Enes Kanter(O)
Spurs: No Injuries
Boston Celtics Starting Lineup
The Boston Celtics have not lost since their season-opening game against the Philadelphia 76ers 107-93, and Kemba Walker’s debut in a Celtics uniform was forgetful, but Walker and the Celtics have been on a roll since.
In their last game in Charlotte against Walker’s former team, the Charlotte Hornets, Boston got out to big leads in the first and third quarters and built a nice lead on their way to a 108-87 win, but Walker says there is still room for improvement.
“We’ve been winning, of course, but I don’t think we’ve really put together a full game yet,” Walker said. “We’re just playing in spurts right now. We just need to get better, and we will.”
Walker returned to Charlotte and received a video tribute before finishing with 14 points and six assists against his former team. Boston got Jaylen Brown back, and he had 12 points in the game, but the Celtics were led by Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward, who led the team with 23 and 20 points apiece.
San Antonio Spurs Starting Lineup
The San Antonio Spurs had been struggling prior to Thursday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. They had lost consecutive games and three of their last four prior to that. Many of their struggles had been tied to LaMarcus Aldridge, who had only managed to score in single digits in two of the four games.
Thursday night’s game may have been the shot in the arm he and the team needed as Aldridge scored 39 points, shooting 19 of 23 from the field in the Spurs’ 121-112 win.
“I definitely put the work in,” Aldridge said. “Just waiting for my shot to come back. The first one felt good, after that, I just tried to stay with it.”
Aldridge also had some help. Point guard Dejounte Murray, who is on a minutes restriction, finished with a near triple-double of 17 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds. DeMar DeRozan had 16 points and nine assists, Bryn Forbes had 14 points and Patty Mills continues to play well with the second unit. He had 10 points in the win.
Key Player Matchups
Jayson Tatum vs. DeMar DeRozan
Tatum and DeRozan are very similar players at different parts of their careers. Tatum has the outside shot that DeRozan doesn’t have and he has yet to enter his prime, whereas DeRozan can still be dominant and is likely in the final years of his prime. It’ll be interesting to see how they match up on the court. DeRozan has had his way with defenders lately as he gets to the basket using his spin move or rises up for his mid-range jumper.
Kemba Walker vs. Dejounte Murray
Kemba Walker is the present and Dejounte Murray is the future. But don’t allow that to make you think Walker has the upper hand here. Walker has a more nuanced and versatile offensive game and is the better shooter, but Murray is one of the top young defenders in the league at the 1, and he’ll be looking to make life difficult for Walker tonight.
One game off of scoring his season-high, I expect Aldridge will still be hot, so look for him as the stud for the Spurs, while Gordon Hayward is the pick for Boston. Murray and Brown are nice value pickups for your roster.
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