Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Toronto Raptors

I distinctly remember the moment Kawhi Leonard was traded. I was at my desk, in the middle of writing an article about Leonard, when I received a text from my new editor.

I sat there in shock for about ten minutes, and then, following the journalist’s instinct, I shifted my focus. The next evening, my very first article was published here, at Pounding The Rock. The article was as optimistic as I could make it, looking ahead to the future, but as a fan of the team, I felt lost. There were so many aspects to comprehend.

To start with, I wasn’t thrilled with the terms of the trade. And I was particularly disappointed to see fan-favorite Danny Green also leave along with Leonard. Privately, I found it mildly amusing that PATFO had sent Leonard off to Canada. But the cost was high.

While I couldn’t blame Toronto for making the trade, I couldn’t help feeling resentful that they would likely use San Antonio’s anointed franchise player to chase a championship. It was even more frustrating that they eventually succeeded.

But mostly, I wondered what was next. How often does any franchise have the opportunity to draft players like Robinson, Duncan, Parker, Ginobili, and Leonard in such close succession? It felt like the Spurs and their fans could be in for a long period of uncertainty.

Now, five years later, an exciting answer has emerged. Once again, San Antonio has been fortunate in the lottery, and now they have the chance to test Wemby against the team that took their previous franchise cornerstone.

I never fully forgave the Raptors for benefiting from the friction and turmoil. I eagerly signed up to cover their games, unable to look away, captivated in a strange way. Now, I finally feel like I can move on.

Who knows what surprises Toronto will have in store for this match-up? Slam dunks from the free throw line? Unbelievable heat-check threes and a scoring explosion of 38 points or more?

Both teams have negative net ratings, high turnover and assist numbers, and mostly mediocre shooting statistics. And yet, with Victor Wembanyama on the court, anything seems possible for the Spurs, who have been trending upwards.

At times, it almost feels like gloating. Almost.

Toronto Raptors at San Antonio Spurs

November 5th, 2023 | 2:30 PM CT

Watch: Bally Sports Southwest|Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: Devin Vassell – Out (Groin)

Raptors Injuries: Precious Achiuwa – Doubtful (Groin), Christian Koloko – Out (Illness)

What to watch for:

  • The Starting Lineup: Aside from the highly anticipated debut of Victor Wembanyama, there have been questions about the optimal starting lineup since the preseason. This time, Devin Vassell will be absent due to injury, and fans are curious to see who will fill in temporarily. Will it be the highly efficient passer Tre Jones, whose playmaking ability benefits both Wembanyama and Sochan, as well as the overall offensive flow? Or will it be the equally efficient shooter Cedi Osman, who also brings defensive prowess? Or perhaps a dark horse candidate like Devonte’ Graham (or even Doug McDermott), if Coach Popovich is happy with the current bench rotation? Only PATFO knows for sure, but my bet would be on one of those four. Either way, we’ll all be watching closely.
  • Length vs. Length: So far this season, the Spurs have fielded a starting lineup with more height and wingspan than most of their opponents, but the Raptors are one of the few teams that can match them in both youth and length. This game will serve as a good test for San Antonio’s bigger lineups, especially their interior defense. Even Wemby won’t be able to handle all that length alone, so a collective effort will be crucial in protecting the rim throughout the game, particularly when he’s off the floor.

For the Raptors’ perspective, visit Raptors HQ.

PtR’s game thread will be live this evening for those who want to discuss the game. You can also follow the action on PtR’s Twitter feed.


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