Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio
SAN ANTONIO – The best road team in the Eastern Conference meets the top home team in the West when the Boston Celtics open a three-game road trip at the San Antonio Spurs on Friday. The Celtics won the last four of a five-game homestand, capped by Wednesday’s 97-90 victory over Dallas, and won 10 of their last 11 road games since a season-opening loss at Cleveland.
Meanwhile, the Spurs claimed the first two on their three-game homestand to improve to 12-2 at AT&T Center, although coach Gregg Popovich isn’t ready to make any dramatic proclamations. “Getting 30 assists is always wonderful,” Popovich told reporters after his team did just that and shot 52.9 percent in a 117-105 win over Miami on Wednesday. “Then you sit down and start feeling good about it and you realize that Golden State does that every night. And you go ‘OK, we’ve got a ways to go, don’t get too excited.’ But it is great to see.” Boston had 25 assists on 36 baskets in its 97-90 win over Dallas, improving to 8-0 against the West. Kyrie Irving, who had 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting in a 108-94 win over the Spurs at home on Oct. 30, scored 23 to lead the offense against the Mavericks.
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, NBCS Boston, KENS 5 (San Antonio)
ABOUT THE CELTICS (22-4): Boston rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit in Wednesday’s win despite playing without starting guard Jaylen Brown (eye) and occasional starter Marcus Morris (knee). Both players are considered questionable for Friday with guard Terry Rozier (12 points, season-high nine rebounds versus Dallas) and forward Daniel Theis (season-high 11 rebounds in 17 minutes) among those ready to fill the void. “Just covering for one another. We’re a team. We’re pros for a reason,” Rozier told reporters Wednesday. “You put all that hard work in and you have to be ready.”
ABOUT THE SPURS (17-8): While a Friday night matchup with the top team in the NBA will draw loads of attention, San Antonio fans will be looking ahead to Saturday’s matchup at Phoenix, which could see the season debut of star forward Kawhi Leonard. The 26-year-old is working his way back from a nagging quadriceps injury and the San Antonio Express-News has reported that the Spurs hope to bring back the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year when they begin a three-game road trip against the Suns. LaMarcus Aldridge has shouldered the load without Leonard in the lineup and led eight players in double figures with 18 points against Miami.
1. San Antonio won 11 straight meetings prior to the loss at Boston earlier this season.
2. Celtics F Al Horford has 27 assists over his last three games and is averaging a career-high 5.4.
3. Spurs F Rudy Gay is averaging 14 points and 8.5 rebounds in back-to-back starts following 21 games off the bench.