12/31 Game Preview: Celtics at Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs have been one of the NBA's best home teams this season and will put that prowess to the test on Monday when they host the Boston Celtics at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.
The meeting between two of the leagues perennial heavyweights is the first of the two for the season. The Spurs and Celtics split their two games in 2017-18, and San Antonio has won the past six dustups at home and has a 52-39 all-time advantage.
San Antonio (20-17) is 14-5 at home and has won seven of their past eight games on its home floor. The Spurs have even started to put things together on the road, with the latest example a 122-111 win at the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday in the second game of a road back-to-back.
"On a back-to-back, a lot of guys are tired and that sort of thing," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Road wins are good, so we're happy about it."
LaMarcus Aldridge scored a season-high 38 points in the win and keyed a mid-third quarter run that cemented the game. San Antonio busted open a game that was tied at the half by outscoring the Clippers by 20 points in the third period.
All five of the Spurs' starters and one bench player scored in double figures. DeMar DeRozen added 25 points and 13 rebounds for San Antonio, with Rudy Gay and Derrick White contributed 12 points each.
"It was about the defense, getting stops, getting out in transition, getting easy buckets," Gay told the San Antonio Express News. "Sometimes we make it hard on ourselves. We forget to play defense. But if we get the ball out, we get easy baskets that way. Pop emphasized that at halftime, getting into transition and not work so hard to score, because sometimes we get into the mud and it slows down."
Despite two losses in their past four games, the Spurs are 9-3 over their last 12.
Boston heads to the Alamo City on the heels of a rousing come-from-behind 112-103 win at Memphis on Saturday.
The Celtics were down by as many as 19 points early in the second half but used 26 points from Kyrie Irving and 18 point by Al Horford to leapfrog the Grizzlies and garner the win. Marcus Morris added 22 points for Boston, while Gordon Hayward hit for 14 off the bench.
Irving also had 13 assists, which matched his season-high, while Horford's five 3-pointers equaled his career-best performance from beyond the arc.
"I didn't think our offense, attention to detail, or physicality was enough in the first half, and it turned up with 20 minutes to go," Boston coach Brad Stevens told the Boston Globe after the win. "We got some loose balls. We got some runouts, got down the floor, made some shots, felt better about ourselves, and gave ourselves a chance."
Boston (21-14) has won three of its past four games after losing three straight.
"We're making progress every day -- we know that," Stevens said. "We've just got to keep going. It's going to click and when it clicks, it's going to continue to click. We're going to have some days where it's off, but we can't let one game determine us as a team and as a season."
Forward Robert Williams, who's missed consecutive games with a strained left groin, is likely to sit for Monday's game against the San Antonio Spurs as well and remains day-to-day.