|3:30 PM PT4:30 PM MT5:30 PM CT6:30 PM ET22:30 GMT6:30 3:30 PM MST5:30 PM EST2:30 UAE (+1)00:3018:30 ET5:30 PM CT21:30 , August 13, 2020
HP Field House, Kissimmee, Florida
Spurs in must-win scenario against Jazz
San Antonio Spurs at Utah Jazz
- San Antonio has won three straight, and five of its last seven against the Jazz, including going 3-0 this season, winning all three games by single digits. The Spurs are looking for their fourth season series sweep of the Jazz since 2010, as no other Western Conference team has swept Utah more in the last ten seasons (Clippers -- 3).
- San Antonio has won three straight games, including a 119-111 win over the Jazz on Friday. The Spurs are trying for their first four-game winning streak of the season after having at least one such streak in each of the last 23 seasons dating back to 1996-97.
- Utah has lost five of its last six games, including the last three in a row. Ten of their last 11 games have been decided by fewer than ten points going back to before the shutdown, with the exception being a 16-point defeat to the Thunder on August 1.
- Jakob Poeltl led the Spurs with 12 rebounds in their win over Houston on Tuesday, his third straight game of double-digit rebounds. Poeltl is just the second Spurs player to record three straight games of 10+ rebounds in the last two seasons (LaMarcus Aldridge -- 4 different streaks).
- Jordan Clarkson led the Jazz with 18 points in their loss to Dallas on Monday, the only starter to score in double figures. It was the first time the Jazz had just one starter with 10 or more points since February 7, 2018 (Ricky Rubio) at Memphis.
- San Antonio has averaged an NBA-low 12.6 turnovers per game this season while Utah has forced just 12.3 turnovers per game, second fewest in the league. San Antonio has averaged just 9.8 turnovers per game in their last five games against the Jazz (4-1).
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With one seeding game remaining, the San Antonio Spurs face a must-win situation in order to continue their season.
The Spurs wrap up the regular season against the Utah Jazz on Thursday near Orlando. While Utah has already locked up a playoff spot in the Western Conference, San Antonio still needs a win -- and help -- just to make the Western Conference play-in game. A loss to Utah ends San Antonio's season. Even if the Spurs beat the Jazz, they still need two losses from Portland, Phoenix, or Memphis in order to get to the play-in game.
San Antonio (32-38) is doing everything it can to reach the postseason for the 23rd consecutive season. The Spurs downed Houston 123-105 on Tuesday for their fifth win in seven games.
Rookie guard Keldon Johnson spearheaded the critical victory with 24 points and 11 rebounds -- both career bests.
"He's just a winner," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
Johnson helped the Spurs lead by as many as 29 points in the fourth quarter against a Rockets team that was resting several key players after virtually clinching the fourth seed. Now, San Antonio has a chance to extend its winning streak to four games against a Jazz team that rested virtually all of their key players when the two teams played last Friday.
"We just got to go out there and do what we do," Johnson said Tuesday. "Are we stressed? No. But I know we definitely want to make the playoffs. We are on the edge and ready to go."
Utah (43-28) has a different goal going into this final seeding game. The Jazz are playoff bound as the sixth seed in the West seed and have been using recent games as a testing ground for younger end-of-the-bench players in order to get them some experience.
The Jazz emptied their bench in the second half in a 122-114 loss to Dallas on Monday. The rookie-heavy lineup let the Mavericks erase a 22-point deficit by the middle of the fourth quarter as they struggled to execute on offense and get stops on defense.
Avoiding a potential first-round matchup with Houston was not Utah's only motivation in resting the starters for half the game. The Jazz are looking to shore up their bench depth in case injuries require digging deep into the rotation.
"We're going to have to at least have the option and the potential to get to the bench in some crucial minutes and that's going to be important for us," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said Tuesday.
One other important factor will be outside shooting. In that department, Utah is making steady progress. The Jazz have shot 40 percent or better from the perimeter over their last four games.
Utah had its best outing from 3-point range in the bubble against Dallas -- going 21-of-46 from long distance.
"We're doing a great job of making 3s and taking 3s, so I think that's huge for our success," forward Georges Niang said after the Dallas loss. "And going forward I think that's going to be (key) for our playoff games."
San Antonio beat Utah 119-111 when the two teams played on Friday. Derrick White led the Spurs with 24 points.
--Field Level Media
Updated August 12, 2020