Editor’s Note: This Q&A was drafted and answered prior to the news that San Antonio Spurs center Jakob Poeltl will be missing several games.
Spurs center Jakob Poeltl has entered health and safety protocols and is expected to miss several games, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Poeltl is averaging 13.9 points and 9.7 rebounds for San Antonio so far this season.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 3, 2021
To preview tonight’s San Antonio Spurs game against the Dallas Mavericks, I talked to longtime Mavs fan Phillip Higginbotham. Aside from being a Mavericks fan, Phillip also covers UTSA football for us here on the Project Spurs Network.
I asked him five questions to prepare for tonight’s matchup. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for his UTSA coverage and Mavs takes.
What: San Antonio Spurs vs. Dallas Mavericks
When: 7:30 p.m. CST
Where: AT&T Center – San Antonio
TV Channel: Bally Sports Southwest
Live Stream: SilverandBlack.tv
1. What has your early assessment of Jason Kidd been as the Mavs head coach?
I don’t expect Jason to be coaching Dallas for long. Jason Kidd has meant a ton to Dallas. In his first stint, the Mavs went from a joke in the NBA to a passable basketball team. In his second stint, they won an improbable championship over the Heat. So while I love the story of Kidd coming back and coaching and being successful, I don’t see that happening. He is a middle-of-the-road coach at best in my opinion.
2. Maxi Kleber seems to be a Spurs killer every time he plays San Antonio. He was kept out of last night’s game against the Miami Heat. It’s still unsure whether he will be back in time for tonight’s game. Can Jakob Poeltl or the Spurs bigs do anything to limit Maxi from going off and becoming a blocked shots machine again?
It looks like the back strain that Kleber is dealing with will probably sideline him for tonight. That’s good news for Spurs fans. Kleber was the key to last week’s comeback Mavs’ win. Without him, the Mavs will not be the same defensively, which is something every Spurs fan should cheer over.
3. This young Spurs team is still struggling to find their identity. They had a big lead against the Mavs in the last matchup, only to allow the Mavs to go on a big run to win the game. What have your early thoughts been on the new-look, young Spurs?
If they will play Pop’s style of ball and give maximum effort the Spurs could grow into a team over the season that becomes a tough out in the playoffs. While they’re missing the big names and star power, that’s never been a part of Pop’s style anyway. It’s about technical, solid basketball and if these young guys will buy in completely to that, other playoff teams will groan over the matchup.
4. Luka Doncic is a matchup nightmare for most teams, and that rings true for San Antonio. He’s coming off a big game against Miami. Do the Spurs have any chance of defending him well with a guard like Lonnie Walker or Derrick White?
Luka is every bit the player he’s hyped to be. Few teams have an answer for 77 but the Mavs have yet to find a good 2nd player that is consistently dangerous as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if more and more Luka has big games like last night against Miami but the Mavs team still falls short. Teams may simply allow Luka to do what he can while concentrating on shutting down whoever emerges as the hot hand of the evening for the Mavs and outscoring Luka.
5. Jalen Brunson seems to be on quite a tear lately. What do you think has been the impetus behind his improvement this season so far?
Jalen shot 77% last night from the field in the loss to Miami. That’s great. He also had 7 rebounds. Last week Against San Antonio he shot 53% and had 7 rebounds. In between those fairly solid performances he put up a 30% night with 3 boards against the Kings and 25% with 2 boards in Denver. Brunson lacks consistency (which can be said of most of the Mavericks early in the season).