Boston at San Antonio
When: 9:30 PM ET, Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
SAN ANTONIO – (Wire Service Preview by Sports XChange for Digital Sports Desk) -The San Antonio Spurs seemed to let out some frustration in their most recent game and will try to maintain their edge when they host the Boston Celtics on Wednesday. After drawing the ire of coach Gregg Popovich for a lackluster effort in a loss at Chicago, the Spurs matched their best offensive effort since March 28, 2014 (133 points) with a 130-101 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday.
“We have so many professional guys and veteran guys, it shouldn’t take him to do that,” San Antonio guard Patty Mills said of Popovich’s criticism two days earlier. “But it definitely affected everyone to know that we’ve got to lace them up here and do what we do. No one messing around.” Kawhi Leonard scored 30 points in the win as the Spurs shot 53.2 percent from the field, 53.8 percent from 3-point range and 88.9 percent from the foul line. A San Antonio team clicking on all cylinders could spell trouble for the Celtics, who have lost 10 straight meetings between the teams and have missed star guard Isaiah Thomas (groin) for the last three contests. Boston has dropped three of its last four, including a tough 99-96 setback at Oklahoma City on Sunday.
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, CSN New England (Boston), FSN Southwest (San Antonio)
ABOUT THE CELTICS (13-11): Thomas said late last week that he was aiming to return for the game against San Antonio, but if he cannot go Wednesday it will yield another start for Marcus Smart. The third-year pro had 11 points, nine assists and six rebounds in the loss to the Thunder while continuing his pattern of playing better when in the starting lineup. Smart is shooting 40.7 percent from the floor and 34.3 percent from the arc as a starter – compared to 34.1 and 26.2 off the bench – and his assist-to-turnover ratio goes from 2.04 to 2.85 when he steps into the starting role.
ABOUT THE SPURS (19-5): Leonard is averaging 25.8 points while shooting 53.3 percent in five games this month and has just six turnovers in 166 total minutes during that stretch. Mills matched Leonard with four 3-pointers Saturday and he has made 10 over the last three games after missing all five of his long-range attempts (and all eight of his shots overall) in a one-point effort at Milwaukee on Dec. 5. The Australia native is averaging 15.7 points in only 22.3 minutes in the three-game surge.
1. Leonard had 25 points and 10 rebounds while Thomas finished with 24 points and eight assists in San Antonio’s 109-106 win at Boston last month.
2. Celtics F Jaylen Brown is averaging 10 points off the bench since Thomas went down after scoring a total of 13 points in his previous eight games.
3. The teams entered Tuesday’s play tied for sixth in the NBA in 3-point percentage defense (33.9).