San Antonio Spurs vs. Utah Jazz Preview
The San Antonio Spurs are in a must-win situation as they take on Western Conference foe, the Utah Jazz, this evening for their last seeding game in the bubble. The Jazz have gone 2-5 in the restart, but have locked up a playoff appearance with their 43-28 record as they seem destined for a first round matchup with the Denver Nuggets.
San Antonio struggled during the season, but they have performed well with a young lineup in Orlando, going 5-2, but they are behind the eight ball tonight as they need to secure a win and have two of either Memphis, Portland or Phoenix to lose to be able to be eligible for a play-in tournament to earn their way to a 23rd consecutive playoff berth.
The Spurs are 32-38 on the season and have identical winning percentages with the Grizzlie and Suns, but both teams own tie-breakers, putting the Spurs in 11th place even though they are just one-half game behind the eighth-place Portland Trail Blazers.
Time: 6:30 PM ET
Arena: The Field House, Orlando, FL
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Spurs: LaMarcus Aldridge (O), Trey Lyles (O), Bryn Forbes (O), Patty Mills (DTD), Tyler Zeller (DTD)
Jazz: Rudy Gobert (O), Mike Conley (O), Bojan Bogdanovic (O)
San Antonio Spurs Starting Lineup
In the bubble, the San Antonio Spurs have looked like a much different team than the one that struggled and put together a sub .500 record before the season was stopped.
With LaMarcus Aldridge and Trey Lyles out, the Spurs coaching staff was forced to go small and introduce a new starting lineup with DeJounte Murray, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker, DeMar DeRozan, and Jakob Poeltl. This lineup, as well as the play from Rudy Gay and Keldon Johnson off the bench, has given the Spurs a rejuvenated look, and they’ve seen more success because of it.
Johnson, a rookie for the Spurs, played much of the early season in Austin with the Spurs’ G-League affiliate, but his development has been apparent, especially as hed the Spurs to a blowout win over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday 123-105.
“He’s just a winner,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
Johnson had 24 points and 11 rebounds in the Rockets win, both career highs, and he’ll be ready to perform with the postseason on the line this evening.
“We just got to go out there and do what we do,” Johnson said Tuesday. “Are we stressed? No. But I know we definitely want to make the playoffs. We are on the edge and ready to go.”
The Spurs recently won in a matchup against these same Jazz on Friday 119-111, with Derrick White leading the way. They’ll need another win tonight just to even have a chance at a play-in.
Utah Jazz Starting Lineup
The Utah Jazz are coming into tonight’s game off of three straight losses, and although they have locked up their playoff berth, don’t think coach Quin Snyder has any intentions on opening the door for the Spurs. They do hope to try to work on their bench depth, especially with Mike Conley and Rudy Gobert out.
“We’re going to have to at least have the option and the potential to get to the bench in some crucial minutes and that’s going to be important for us,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.
The Jazz were in a tight overtime game with the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, but rested Donovan Mitchell in their 122-114 loss to the Mavericks on Monday. None of their starters played over 16 minutes, which gave opportunities for second unit players like Rayjon Tucker, Emmanuel Mudiay and Georges Niang, who all scored in double figures.
“We’re doing a great job of making 3s and taking 3s, so I think that’s huge for our success,” Niang said after the Dallas loss. “And going forward I think that’s going to be (key) for our playoff games.”
Jordan Clarkson also played limited minutes in the game, but managed 18 points. The San Antonio native has been a thorn in the side of the Spurs going back to his days with Cleveland, so he’ll be one to watch in today’s game.
Spurs vs. Jazz Fantasy Basketball Angle
DeMar DeRozan of the Spurs and Donovan Mitchell of the Jazz are my fantasy picks for this game. DeRozan has played well in the bubble and he has a 38.1 point projection for his $7.8k salary on Fan Duel.
Mitchell has the exact same salary but is projected for less at 27.7 points. Jordan Clarkson and either Derrick White or Keldon Johnson would be good value picks for this game as well.
Spurs vs. Jazz Betting Odds
Spurs Odds: -320
Jazz Odds: +260
Over/Under: 232 points
The Spurs are eight-point favorites to win tonight’s game. They are 28-18-23 against the spread and are 18-9 as the favorite.
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