Game Preview #31: San Antonio Spurs @ Washington Wizards

Happy New Year, PtR readers! You know, we've been posting things along the lines of "It looks like just possibly the Spurs might perhaps be about to begin playing decent basketball" for what seems like weeks now. I'm just going to go ahead and make the leap--the Spurs are playing good basketball. Great basketball? No, not yet, not consistently, but I think we would all rather be on the way up than on the way down.

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For our first game of 2010 we face the struggling Wizards. I'm typing this on January 1, as various reports are surfacing that teammates Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton drew guns on each other in the locker room while arguing over a gambling debt (the sound you just heard was David Stern's head detonating). I'm not sure what to say about all that but "sweet fancy Moses." Arenas denies it and is allegedly threatening to sue the New York Post. David Aldridge seems to have the best handle on the situation, but details and fall-out are still impossible to predict. Regardless of what further investigation reveals, the Wizards are all kinds of messed up. These are seriously unhappy times for Wizards fans.

But not for Spurs fans!

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Washington Wizards @ San Antonio Spurs
Where: Verizon Center - Washington, D.C.
When: January 2, 2010, 6:00 PM Spurs time
Watch: FSN SW; NBA LP


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How They Stack Up
14-5 Home 5-8
5-6 Road 5-12
102.4
Offense 99.4
96.0 Defense 102.9
48.6 FG% 44.2
38.5 3-pt% 34.0
75.0 FT% 75.9
42.5 Rebounds 43.0
14.6 TOs 14.7
8-2 Last 10 3-7
Won 4
Streak Lost 3
2nd, Southwest Position 5th, Southeast

Country/Time Zone Game Time
FANGIO LAND
9:00 PM
West Coast
4:00 PM
Philippines 8:00 AM
Central Europe 1:00 PM
Palestine/Egypt 2:00 AM
East Coast 7:00 PM
CapHill's Frosty Hell
5:00 PM
Perth, AUS 8:00 AM
Tokyo, JP 9:00 AM
Sydney, AUS 10:00 AM

Spurs
(19-11)
Matchups

Wizards
(10-20)

Tony Parker
Needs a better "Grease" wig

Point Guard

The last time the Wizards and Spurs met, Arenas led the scoring with 18 points. That was a different Spurs team, though, without Tony and without Manu. And at this point, it's unclear whether Arenas will be playing at all. He's still listed in the media notes as a probable starter.

Advantage: Spurs


Gilbert Arenas
Needs to ditch the guns, srsly

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Keith Bogans
Defensive Specialist

Shooting Guard

Randy Foye, filling in for the injured Mike Miller, has typically been scoring in the low double digits. Bogans only played 19 minutes against the Heat--which is why we get the white box. Our bench gives us the advantage in this category.

Advantage: Spurs


Randy Foye
The BAM calls him "Dinner."

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Richard Jefferson
It's coming together

Small Forward

Caron Butler has five double-doubles on the season and is apparently the de facto leader of this team, especially if Arenas is suspended or has his contract voided. He was quoted at length in the Washington Post yesterday, and he sounded like a man on a mission. I expect Richard Jefferson to continue improving, but Butler still has the slight edge over him.

Advantage: Wizards


Caron Butler
Cap probably still hates UConn

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DeJuan Blair
Devourer of Worlds

Power Forward

The Spurs are listing DeJuan at center, but who am I to argue with the game preview template? And this way I can say, "That Blair kid puts the POWER in power forward!"

Advantage: Tied


Antawn Jamison
Captain Consistent

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Tim Duncan
Player of the Decade

Center

Tim Duncan versus Brendan Haywood. Do I really need to break this one down any further?

Advantage: Spurs


Brendan Haywood
Cannon fodder

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Manu Ginobili
Sparkle Motion

Bench & Role Players

The Wizards bench has been stone cold over the last three games. And even if they're at their best, the Spurs should still get the white box: The best scorer off the Wizards bench is Blatche, with an average of 9.2 points per game. Earl Boykins follows with 8.5. Meanwhile, the Sickness is averaging 13.1, and Sir Hotbod Handsomeface is at 9.8.

Advantage: Spurs


Andray Blatche
Rough going of late

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Gregg Popovich
Kindly Old Cuddlebug

Coach

Saunders isn't going down without a fight, and he's not going to let his team be swallowed up by despair. But there's only so much he can do with the tools at his disposal.

Advantage: Spurs


Flip Saunders
Don't blame him.
images via yahoo.com

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OTHER FACTORS

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Intangibles

The Wizards haven't beaten the Spurs since 2005. This doesn't seem like the most likely time for that trend to be reversed, but I suppose stranger things have happened. This could turn into one of those situations where the Wizards come out determined to prove something. We'll have to be prepared.

Advantage: Neither

Mojo

If we're talking about sheer momentum, the Spurs are holding all the cards here. This entire season must be feeling like a nightmare for the Wizards faithful.

Advantage: Spurs

Winner

Prediction: Spurs win.
When both teams are on streaks (winning in our case, losing in theirs), it feels like tempting fate to assume both streaks continue. But that's just what I'm going to do.

Keys To The Game

  • Defense - The Wizards defense, in this case. In losing to the Oklahoma City Cowboy Thunderclusters, the Wizards allowed 46 uncontested shots. If they do that again tonight, they're cooked. Of course, our shots will have to be falling if we're going to take advantage of any defensive lapses. And I would expect the Wizards to be very, very focused on defense, given recent events. In fact, according to the Washington Post, Saunders put the team through "an intense three-hour practice" on Thursday that focused exclusively on defense. Maybe this would be a good time for Pop to review some foul-drawing strategy with our shooters. . . .
  • Keep Doin' What We're Doin' - Man oh man--more than anything I would like to see us win the same way for a whole series of games. The entire month of January, say. We've discussed flow, rhythm, integrating the new guys ad nauseum. Now it's time to become a well-oiled machine.

Some Other Reading

Wizards

Bullets Forever - The guys who run this SBN blog are doing what they can to capture the emotional hell that comes with rooting for a dysfunctional team. Which means that all in all, it's a damn good read. Check it out.

Truth About It - The TrueHoop affiliate for Washington. Not a ton of comments, but the writing is good.

Spurs

48 Minutes of Hell: The best TH blog around. Graydon's been doing a great job of manning the ship during the holidays, making us remember why it's the best TH blog..

Project Spurs: Lots of good folks in here. Visit, read, comment, come back. And don't miss their podcast, either.

The (sort of) Daily Twitter

DeJuan45

In DC think bout Pitt days VS GTOWN SHOUT OUT TO MY PITT BROTHERS!!!!! MAD MEMORIEs DO YALL THING K KNO YALL ALL ON TWITTER NOW WILin LOL!!!

George_Hill3

Now headin to his [Hill's agent, in D.C.] house. His wife is cookin dinner. Fried chicken corn rice brownies and red kool-aid. God is Good....

MoneyMase

What is going on with my old squad? I hope the rumors are false, guns to the arena? Wow. Anyways, its nice to be back in my hometown.

shitmydadsays

"Universe is 14 billion years old. Seems silly to celebrate one year. Be like having a fucking parade every time i take a piss."
And finally, consider this recent statement from Flip Saunders:

"Spots will be open," Saunders said. "If guys don't like it, that's fine but that's the way it's going to be. I'm not going to sit there, stand there and look at that any more. You evaluate for 30 games where you're at. Right now, where it's going, it ain't getting done."

You can find all the official Spurs Sports & Entertainment Twitter accounts here: http://twitter.com/spurs/official/members

Other things of possible interest

THE END: Super cool page displaying "The End" title screens from Warner Bros. spanning the years 1925 to 1975. Fascinating to scroll down the page and watch the history of graphic design spool out before your eyes. To see the specific films these are from, mouse over the title cards.

Where to Tune In

TV

The game is available on Fox Sports Network Southwest, even if you have Time-Warner Cable (negotiations have been extended), as well as on NBA League Pass.

Online

As always, NBA League Pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash.

Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate. In fact, nobody can stop you from googling "atdhe". You can also shoot an email to dmenendez@gmail.com for more assistance.

Spurs League Pass audio is still free this year, so check it out.

Radio

If you're in the San Antonio area and aren't near a TV, tune in to WOAI (1200 AM).

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