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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. New York Knicks

SB Nation logo SB Nation 3/15/2019 Mark Toubin
a man holding a basketball © Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

This one’s personal.

The New York Knicks entered the February 24th game against San Antonio having last won at home on the evening of December 1st. In between, these Knickerbockers lost 18 consecutive home games, one game shy of tying the ‘93-’94 Dallas Mavericks for the record of longest home losing streak. The Spurs arrived in Madison Square Garden hoping to salvage a disappointing Rodeo Road Trip, having lost five of the first six games, including a heartbreaker in Toronto two days earlier. They would need to do it without the services of Derrick White, placed on injury management with an upcoming B2B against the Nets in the road trip’s finale. Who knows what forces transpired for the San Antonio to lose to the then NBA’s second worst team? (The Knicks currently hold the NBA’s worst record.) But shooting 6 of 24 from three, LaMarcus Aldridge’s early foul trouble and poor interior defense had the Spurs playing catch up all game. While the subs made the final score somewhat respectable at 130-118, nothing else about the lose was.

So surprising was this New York win that prior to revealing the Oscar for best adapted screenplay, Samuel Jackson spotted Knick superfan Spike Lee in the audience and informed over 30 million people that his beloved NBA squad had finally won a game at Madison Square Garden by defeating San Antonio.

Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson are posing for a picture: 91st Annual Academy Awards - Show © Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images 91st Annual Academy Awards - Show
“The Knicks won tonight, defeating San Antonio 130 to 118.”

Ironically, Lee expressed disappointment at the win, clearly preferring Zion Williamson to evasion of NBA infamy.

While it’s a cliché, it’s often also true: sometimes a team must hit rock bottom before rising to it’s potential. Though the Spurs lost badly the following night in Brooklyn, they haven’t lost since and currently hold the NBA’s longest winning streak at six games. The Silver & Black now hold the 6th seed in the variable and fluctuating Western Conference, two and one-half games behind Portland and one-half a game ahead of Utah and Los Angeles (Clippers).

New York Knicks (13-55) @ San Antonio Spurs (39-29)

March 15, 2019|7:30 PM CT

Watch: KENS | Listen: WOAI

INJURIES

Spurs: Dejounte Murray (knee) OFS, Rudy Gay (illness) probable.

Knicks: Isaiah Hicks (groin) GTD, Mario Hezonja (leg) GTD, Frank Ntilikina (groin) out.

THE KNICKS

New York arrives in the Alamo City in the midst of a seven-game losing streak, most recently at the hands of the Pacers in Indianapolis on Tuesday night, 103-98. An NBA team doesn’t win just 13 games by accident; it takes hard work and several mid-season trades. With the dust settled, the starting five consists of: forwards Noah Vonleh and Kevin Knox, center DeAndre Jordan, and guards Damyean Dotson and Dennis Smith Jr. Second-year player Dotson, a second-round draft pick out of the University of Houston, leads the team in scoring since the All-Star break with over 15 ppg.

THE SPURS

Improved Numbers

As the charts below illustrate, over the past six games San Antonio improved its Rodeo Road Trip defensive rating by 17 points and its season rating by 6. The team’s 7.6 net rating during this time period is good enough for second in the league.

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San Antonio Spurs v Atlanta Hawks © Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images San Antonio Spurs v Atlanta Hawks
Derrick White’s return has bolstered the Spurs defense.

Consistency

Far more important than any revenge factor, the Spurs will look for consistency and a win against a team heading deep into the lottery and before three consecutive home games against probable playoff contenders Portland, Golden State and Miami.

Vegas prediction: Spurs by 10.

Game prediction: Spurs by 16.

For a Knicks fan’s perspective, visit Posting and Toasting

PtR’s Gamethread will be up this afternoon for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.

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