Boston Celtics (6-1) vs. Spurs (5-3)
When, where: Saturday, 4 p.m., AT&T Center
All-time series record: Spurs lead 54-39
Last season: Spurs won 2-0
Last meeting: Spurs 115, Celtics 96, March 24, Boston
Celtics' last game: Beat Hornets 108-87, Thursday, Charlotte, N.C.
Spurs' last game: Beat OKC Thunder 121-112, Thursday, AT&T Center
Celtics' injury/inactive report: Center Tacko Fall (G League), out; center Enes Kanter (left knee contusion), out; guard/forward Romeo Langford (G League), out; guard Tremont Waters (G League), out.
Spurs' injury/inactive report: Forward Drew Eubanks (G League), out; guard/forward Keldon Johnson (G League), out; forward Luka Samanic (G League), out; guard Quindarry Weatherspoon (G League), out.
Notable: The Celtics have won six straight since losing to the 76ers in their season opener at Philadelphia . . . The Spurs cap their three-game homestand Monday night against the Memphis Grizzlies . . . The Silver and Black will retire Tony Parker's jersey number in a ceremony after the game.
Even at 34, when most NBA players start to slow down, Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge is capable of catching fire and occasionally going off as a scorer.
Just ask the Oklahoma City Thunder. They could only watch as Aldridge torched them for 39 points on 19-of-23 shooting in the Spurs' 121-112 victory Thursday night at the AT&T Center.
“LaMarcus is one of the best scorers in NBA history,” guard DeMar DeRozan said Friday after practice. “He’s not close to 20,000 points for no reason. When anybody gets it going like that, it boosts our energy, and we can lean on that player to carry us home.”
The 39-point game was the third-highest of Aldridge's career. He scored a career-high 56 points in an overtime win against OKC – yes, OKC – in January and had 48 in a road victory over the Celtics in March.
Aldridge scored 80 points in two victories last season against Boston, which comes calling on the Spurs for a rare 4 p.m. game Saturday at the AT&T Center.
The Celtics, who have won six straight after losing their season opener, have the best record in the Eastern Conference. The Silver and Black (5-3) broke out of a two-game skid with their victory against the Thunder.
Aldridge, who is in his 14th NBA season and fifth with the Spurs, was shooting 44.2 percent before Thursday's game and had scored only five and eight points in two of his previous four games. San Antonio lost both.
An old-school player with an old-school game, Aldridge scored his 39 points without making a single three-pointer – a rarity in today's NBA. Aldridge was 0 of 1 from beyond the arc and 1 of 2 at the free-throw line.
"It was one of those nights," Aldridge said. "Just trying to stay in the moment. I definitely put the work in, so I was just waiting for my shot to come back. The first one felt good. After that, I tried to stay with it. Pop (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) kept calling plays for me. My teammates were finding me and I was just shooting it."
His shooting percentage up to 51.7, thanks to his hot hand Thursday night, Aldridge is averaging 19.0 points to go with 6.9 rebounds a game.
Aldridge had nine points in the first quarter, 10 in the second, 10 in the third and 10 in the final period. He knocked down 9 of 10 shots in the first half and was 10 of 13 in the last two quarters.
"LaMarcus, obviously, was a beast," Popovich said. "He was really good. He shot quickly, he made quick decisions and he also passed it out of there when he got doubled or there was a crowd.
"He did a great job of finding other people and played a really smart game offensively. Defensively, he's always an anchor for us."
Aldridge's teammates can pretty much tell when he's going to have a big scoring night.
“You can see it in his body language for sure,” veteran guard Patty Mills said. “You see the first one go down, the second one definitely helps. It triggers all types of things that All-Star caliber players still obviously can do.”
Mills was a teammate of Aldridge in Portland, where the latter played for nine seasons before signing with San Antonio in July 2015. Aldridge has been an All-Star seven times, five with the Trail Blazers and two with the Spurs.
Mills was asked about Aldridge's 39-point game and the fact that he didn't score a three-pointer.
"We were both in Portland with Andre Miller, who was a point guard," Mills recalled. "We played in Dallas and he had 50 with no three-pointers. Those games are quite remarkable in that sense. It's impressive to watch and obviously better being on his (Aldridge's) team than playing against him."