Gameday at a glance
Boston Celtics (22-4) vs. Spurs (17-8)
When, where: 8:30 p.m., Friday, AT&T Center
TV: KENS 5, 8 p.m.
Season series: Celtics lead 1-0
Last meeting: Celtics 108, Spurs 94, Oct. 30, Boston
Celtics’ last game: Beat Mavericks 97-90, Wednesday, Boston
Spurs’ last game: Beat Heat 117-105, Wednesday, AT&T Center
Celtics’ last 10 games, streak: 8-2, won four
Spurs’ last 10 games, streak: 8-2, won two
Notable: Kyle Anderson (left MCL sprain) and Kawhi Leonard (right quadriceps tendinopathy) are out for Friday night’s game . . . Bryn Forbes is one of four undrafted Spurs (Bruce Bowen, Gary Neal, Jaren Jackson) to make at least five three-pointers in a game.
SAN ANTONIO – By any measure, the Spurs have played well through the first 25 games of the seasons.
Heading into Friday night’s game against Boston, the Silver and Black are 17-8 and third behind Houston (19-4) and Golden State (20-6) in the NBA’s rough-and-tumble Western Conference.
Playing most of the season without veteran point guard Tony Parker and All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard, both battling back from quad injuries, the Spurs have demonstrated once again that a well-grounded team is always better than the sum of its parts.
But although they’ve remained near the top of the Western Conference, the Silver and Black have yet to pocket a signature victory this season, recording 14 of their 17 victories against sub-.500 teams.
San Antonio has lost to defending league champion Golden State by 20 at home and to Eastern Conference leader Boston by 14 on the road.
The Spurs will get a chance to get that signature win Friday night when they end their three-game home stand against the Celtics, who are 22-4 and have the best record in the league.
“For sure, it’s going to be a tough challenge, a good test for us against a young team, very athletic” center Pau Gasol said after the Silver and Black beat the Miami Heat on Wednesday night. “They’re just playing with a lot of confidence and we’ve got to get ready for it.
“We’re going to have to be a little sharper than we have been lately, and not put ourselves in the holes that we have put ourselves into early on. With more talented teams, it’s harder to come back.”
Friday night’s game will be the third of nine contests televised this season on KENS 5, the official station of the Spurs. The pregame show will air on KENS 5 at 8 p.m.
Led by dynamic point guard Kyrie Irving, who went from Cleveland to Boston this summer in a blockbuster trade this summer, the Celtics have played a notch above everybody else so far this season. Boston has won 22 of 24 games after an 0-2 start and beat Dallas on Wednesday in Beantown for its fourth consecutive victory.
“Oh, yeah, they’ve been playing great,” Spurs guard Bryn Forbes said. “They’re a great offensive team. They’ve got a lot of pieces. But I think if we do all the things that we’re supposed to do every night, whether it’s transition D, bringing energy, a lot of it lies on the defensive end. A lot of wins. If we just do what we’re supposed to do every game, I think we’ll be fine.”
A four-time All-Star who came into the NBA at age 19, Irving is averaging 23.5 points and 5.0 assists this season. The Celts have four other players who average double-figure scoring – Jaylen Brown (14.8), Al Horford (14.3), Jayson Tatum (14.0) and Marcus Morris (12.6). Horford leads the team in rebounding (8.0) and he and Marcus Smart are tops in assists (5.4).
Forbes was one of eight Spurs who scored in double figures in the 117-105 victory against Miami. A second-year pro, Forbes came off the bench to score 17 points and nailed a career-high five three-pointers in five attempts.
LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 18 points to lead the Silver and Black in scoring for the 20th time this season. Rudy Gay finished with 16 points and led the team under the boards with seven rebounds. Patty Mills scored 13 points, followed by Gasol (12) Danny Green (12), Tony Parker (10) and Manu Ginobili (10).
Parker just missed getting a double-double in his fifth game since returning to the lineup Nov. 27, finishing with nine assists in 20 minutes. Looking strong and confident, he hit 5 of 7 shots and ran the offense efficiently. Parker played in the fourth quarter for the first time since he came back, and went 3 for 3 from the field for six points in three minutes.
Leonard has been ruled out for Friday night’s game. There has been increasing speculation the past two days that Leonard could make his season debut against the Suns on Saturday in Phoenix, but other reports have him returning Tuesday at Dallas. Leonard has been sidelined since before training camp with tendinopathy in his right quadriceps.
Up next for the Spurs after Friday’s game: at Phoenix, Saturday, 8 p.m.