After a gut-wrenching end to their four-game road trip, the Spurs are now making a brief return to the AT&T Center to host the surging 76ers, who have won their last three contests by a combined 97 points. Philadelphia effortlessly blew out San Antonio without the assistance of Joel Embiid in the previous meeting between these two teams, and this time their roster will be completely intact for this inter-conference showdown.
The Silver and Black come into this tilt trying to avoid falling below .500 for the first time since April 9, but that will be an uphill battle with Derrick White sidelined with a sprained ankle and Dejounte Murray’s status up in the air. Hopefully, blowing a 32-point lead to the Boston Celtics on Friday night has the good guys dialed in for a matchup that could end up being hugely influential in determining the final play-in positioning out West.
San Antonio Spurs (31-31) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (42-21)
May 2, 2021 | 7:00 PM CST
Watch: BSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Trey Lyles (Out — Ankle), Derrick White (Out — Ankle), Dejounte Murray (Questionable — Knee)
76ers Injuries: None
What to Watch For
- San Antonio’s defense has completely floundered since Derrick White sprained his ankle against the Washington Wizards on Monday evening. The Spurs have given up a league-worst 134 points per game over their last three outings, and even if you factor out overtime minutes by going the per 100 possession route, their Defensive Rating (126) still ranks at the bottom of the NBA over that timeframe. The Sixers have posted an insane 124.7 points per game on a blistering 51.4% shooting from the field this week, and they won’t make life easier for head coach Gregg Popovich and company. The Silver and Black have been too resilient to count them out of any contest before it starts. They’ve also been too inconsistent to predict an outcome with any degree of certainty. Expect the unexpected, and enjoy whatever’s left of this wacky regular season.
- Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are one of the most formidable two-way tandems in the NBA. Both players are multi-time All-Stars, have a legit case for winning Defensive Player of the Year, and Embiid has put up eye-popping numbers worthy of MVP candidacy. Although Philadelphia is home to a pair of multifaceted unicorns, their embarrassment of riches doesn’t end there. Tobias Harris has become somewhat of a forgotten man outside of diehard basketball circles. But the tenth-year combo forward is on the precipice of becoming the ninth member of the elusive 50-40-90 club and just the fifth player in league history to do so while averaging at least 20 points per game. San Antonio’s game plan will likely center around stopping this high-powered trio, and they’ll still have to worry about the possibility of Seth Curry, Shake Milton, Kurkan Korkmaz, or Danny Green going off from beyond the arc.
- DeMar DeRozan might be San Antonio’s only reliable go-to scoring option on Sunday, and perhaps, their best chance of securing a rare win in the 2-1-0. The four-time All-Star has done his best to carry the Spurs, averaging 24.9 points and 8.5 assists per contest since his game-winner against the Mavericks and recording more clutch points than anyone in the NBA (42) over that span. Of course, there won’t be any opportunity for crunch-time heroics if Philly puts the Spurs away early, and DeMar’s supporting cast must rise to the occasion whether Dejounte Murray suits up or not. Keldon Johnson, Lonnie Walker IV, Jakob Poeltl, and Rudy Gay will need to put forth an outstanding effort on both ends for the Silver and Black to have a chance at coming away with a dub. And now would be as great a time as ever for Patty Mills to snap his month-long shooting slump.
For the Sixers fans’ perspective, visit Liberty Ballers.
PtR’s Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.