Friday, March 24, 2023
Sports Gaming Monitor

NBA Preview: San Antonio Spurs (14-41) at Detroit Pistons (14-42)

The San Antonio Spurs essentially dropped off their starting center north of the border after their last game and will play their first game since trading Jakob Poeltl to Toronto when they visit the Detroit Pistons on Friday.

Poeltl was headed to free agency and numerous teams coveted the reliable big man. San Antonio agreed to deal Poeltl (12.1 points, 9.1 rebounds per game) to his former team for center Khem Birch, a protected 2024 first-round draft pick and two future second-round picks.

The Spurs also sent Devonte’ Graham and draft picks to the New Orleans Pelicans for Josh Richardson. The Pistons sent out Saddiq Bey and Kevin Knox, while getting James Wiseman back in return from the Golden State Warriors at a busy deadline.

Even before the Spurs’ deal became public, Toronto coach Nick Nurse heaped praise on Poeltl.

Birch, Zach Collins and Charles Bassey are some of the potential candidates to replace Poeltl in the lineup.

Following Nurse’s comments, the Raptors handed San Antonio its 10th consecutive loss, 112-98. San Antonio committed 16 turnovers, leading to 22 points for Toronto.

Opponents have been exploiting the Spurs’ many weaknesses while Popovich and his staff evaluate younger players. They’ve lost 18 of their last 20 games.

One of the only two victories they’ve collected since New Year’s Eve has come at the Pistons’ expense. San Antonio recorded a 121-109 home win on Jan. 6 as Tre Jones, who missed Wednesday’s game with a foot injury, scored 25 points. Poeltl racked up 11 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks.

Detroit has won only three games since that night and has the same number of wins this season — 14 — as San Antonio.

The Pistons have dropped three straight, including a 113-85 road loss to Cleveland on Wednesday. The Cavaliers outscored the Pistons 37-17 in the fourth quarter, even though their dynamic backcourt of Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell didn’t play.

The Pistons were held to a season-low in points while giving up 70 points in the paint. The addition of the 7-foot Wiseman, who has struggled with injuries, is expected to address that issue moving forward. The Pistons shot 37 percent from the field and got out-rebounded 50-32.

San Antonio will be playing the third game of a nine-game road trip. Detroit plays its next three games on the road.

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