Game preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Utah Jazz

After winning 4 of their last 5 and 10 of their last 15, the San Antonio Spurs seem to have found their place. This is especially true on the offensive side of the ball, as they have scored at least 110 points in the last nine games (something @AirlessJordan noted as Spurs’ longest streak since they did so in 1984). Keldon Johnson becoming Spurs’ top marksman is a big reason for that – he’s averaged 16.7 points in the last 14 games he’s played, even if that includes a failed game against the New York Knicks. Hopefully the Spurs will continue this heatwave of December against the Utah Jazz.

Visitors enter after winning their Christmas Day game against the Dallas Mavericks, 120-116. Donovan Mitchell carried the charge offensively, scoring 33 points, even though he was only 1-7 of three. And while the Jazz will be deprived of their All-Star goalie on Monday, he has plenty of firepower for the Spurs. San Antonio native Jordan Clarkson has averaged 20 points in his last nine games against the Silver and Black on 50 percent shots.

San Antonio Spurs (14-18) vs. Utah Jazz (23-9)

December 27, 2021 | 7:30 p.m. CST

Watch: Bally Sports South West | Listen to: WOAI (1200 AM)

Jazz injuries: Donovan Mitchell (outside – back), Udoka Azubuike (outside – ankle), Malik Fitts (outside – shoulder)

Spur injuries: Dejounte Murray (Released – Health and Safety Protocols), Zach Collins (Released – Ankle)

To monitor :

• Can Spurs keep the ball moving? As noted above, the Spurs offense has been a tear. They jumped to 5th in the NBA in points per game before losing 144 points to the Detroit Pistons. A key part of that score comes from the fact that Spurs move the ball like a Spurs team is known to do. In the last five games, they’ve averaged 32 assists per game. Being a team that relies on a few different players to score, that number has been key throughout the year, especially when facing a team as strong defensively as the Jazz.

• Who is involved in it? It seems like every game there is someone else leading the team. Keita Bates-Diop scoring 30 against the Los Angeles Lakers may be an outstanding performance, but someone will have to join in with the guys Spurs expect to score – namely Keldon Johnson, Derrick White and Lonnie Walker. Against the Pistons, it was Jock Landale who scored 18 of 7-9 on shots. Bates-Diop, Landale or even Bryn Forbes with around 15 points could go a long way to helping Spurs secure a victory.

• Will Spurs be able to stop the music? Even without Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz are a significant threat to score the ball at will. The ball movement they play with and the number of shooters they can put on the field is unmatched. They are 1st in three-point-per-game attempts and 5th in percentage, which puts them atop the league standings in offensive odds, at 117.5. In fact, their 4.4 advantage over the 2nd place Atlanta Hawks is greater than the lead the Hawks have over the 20th place team.

• Could the disadvantage of the rest hurt Spurs? Honestly, last season was the first time I can remember hearing the term ‘rest advantage’ which happens when a team is on a SEGABABA and their opponent is not. So far this year, the Jazz are 9-1 when they have the advantage at rest, while the Spurs are 3-4 when they are disadvantaged at rest. Fortunately, Spurs were able to come out of Game 1 without having to play their guys for many minutes (Bates-Diop led the team to 25 minutes). However, having to play the day before tends to have an impact on a team. Hopefully this young group of Spurs can bounce back against the team with the 3rd best record in the league.

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