Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Toronto Raptors

Well, the time has finally come. After having the upper hand personnel-wise in so many games over the last few weeks, the San Antonio Spurs will be the ones walking into this contest shorthanded.

With Doug McDermott and Lonnie Walker IV joining Dejounte Murray in Covid protocols, the Spurs will be down their 1st, 5th, and 6th leading scorers; a tough pill to swallow for a team that depends on balanced offensive contributions from the whole to win games.

With the postponement against the Miami Heat serving as an odd sort of blip, the Spurs are on a three-game losing streak, having narrowly fallen to the Jazz in Dejounte’s absence, and then failing to execute against undermanned Memphis and Detroit teams.

The Raptors present a bit of a mirror image for the Spurs, as a team that was supposed to rely on their defense, but has instead lurked on the edge of the top 10 in offensive rating (11th for the Spurs, 12th for the Raptors) while the the defense has been middling (16th in defensive rating for the Spurs, 21st for the Raptors).

With a shrewd title-winning coach at the helm, the Raptors play to their strengths, leading the league in transition percentage (while ranking 1st in fast-break points scored and percentage of fast-break points scored), being similarly stingy with their turnovers (6th in turnover percentage), rebounding the ball (2nd in both offensive rebounds and rebound percentage), and swiping the ball at every opportunity (3rd in steals, 2nd in opponents turnover percentage).

This won’t be a team that the Spurs can afford to get lose with the ball around, as the Raptors are also 2nd in points off of turnovers, and the Spurs will need to will need to gobble up all the defensive rebounds that they can, as Toronto also ranks 2nd in second-chance points, an area the Spurs also typically excel in (6th).