The San Antonio Spurs (45-32) empathically snapped the Houston Rockets’ 11-game winning streak with a 100-83 victory on Sunday. It was the heaviest defeat the Rockets have suffered all season as they were held to a mere 34 percent shooting and a season-low seven 3-pointers by the Spurs’ suffocating defense. LaMarcus Aldridge continued to deliver as he dropped 23 points (11-19 FG) and 14 rebounds. Meanwhile, Rudy Gay added 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting off the Spurs bench.
However, the Spurs must now go on the road to face the Los Angeles Clippers (41-36), who continued to lose ground in the playoff chase as they dropped their second game in a row against the Indiana Pacers. The Clips had a balanced attack which saw four players - led by Tobias Harris’ 21 points - go for 19 or more points. However, Danilo Gallinari was clearly not at his best in his second game back from a broken hand. The Italian forward had just seven points on 1-of-9 shooting from the field in 32 minutes.
Three keys to the game
Home-court advantage - The Clippers haven’t been particularly convincing at home - they’re just 21-16 on the season - but they will nevertheless have a significant advantage just by virtue of being the home team against San Antonio. The Spurs have been simply awful on their travels lately. They’ve lost nine of their last 11 road games and are a mere 14-24 on the season. It won’t be a walk in the park to improve upon that disastrous record against a Clippers team that will be desperate not to lose more ground in the playoff race.
LaMarcus Aldridge - Aldridge has been awesome for the Spurs all season long. He just came off a spectacular March where he averaged 26 points on 54 percent shooting, and he’s carried that right over to April. He’s averaging a healthy 22 points on 53 percent shooting in two meetings against the Clippers this season and will be instrumental in the Spurs’ chances of making it three in a row.
Bench battle - The Spurs bench is always a formidable unit for any team to go up against just because of their sheer depth. However, the Clippers can boast quite an impactful bench as well with Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell both capable of turning in game-changing performances. They will need both to deliver the goods if they are to overcome the Spurs for the first time this season.
Matchup to watch
LaMarcus Aldridge vs DeAndre Jordan - Aldridge has been playing more small-ball five by necessity to provide the Spurs with more offensive punch. He’ll obviously have his hands full keeping Jordan from completely dominating the glass. But on the other end, Aldridge will have the opportunity to capitalize on his advantage against DJ on the perimeter.
Spurs projected starting lineup
PG - Dejounte Murray | SG - Patty Mills | SF - Danny Green | PF - Kyle Anderson | C - LaMarcus Aldridge
Clippers projected starting lineup
PG - Austin Rivers | SG - Tyrone Wallace | SF - Danilo Gallinari | PF - Tobias Harris | C - DeAndre Jordan
Aldridge has been pretty much automatic from a fantasy perspective, and his chances of keeping that up against the Clippers should be pretty high given his success against them this season. As for other Spurs who could be worth picking in fantasy, Danny Green will be an interesting pick. The Clippers have not been great defending opposing wings this season, something to which Green can attest. He put up 24 points with four 3-pointers in his lone meeting against LA this season.
On the other side, the Clippers don’t appear to have too many players whom you’d be confident to light it up in fantasy against the Spurs’ defense. Although, Austin Rivers could be an intriguing pick. He’s racked up at least 18 points, seven rebounds, and two steals in two of his last three contests. Moreover, he’s hit the Spurs for 23 or more points in two of his last meetings against them.
It's quickly turning into desperation time for the Clippers, who have just five games left to overcome a two-game deficit for the final playoff spot in the West. Look for them to come out with a bit more purpose against the Spurs, who are tough to trust given their remarkable road woes. Take the Clippers as one-point home underdogs in this one.
The Clippers get a much-needed win as they condemn the Spurs to yet another road defeat, 101-97.
This game will be broadcast on TNT. Tip-off is at 10:30 pm Eastern.