This is the end of the line for games that don't matter. The Spurs' preseason will end with tonight's game, but as we all know, the season starts next Wednesday when the Pacers come to San Antonio. So, in an effort to get everyone ready for the regular season grind, we've decided to debut something not-so-new today: a Preview separate from the Game Thread. We did it last year, and it's about time for us to kick our efforts into a higher gear in anticipation of the regular season.
Make the jump, if you dare.
Disclaimer: The stats, etc. not shown below will not be available until after the regular season begins, as basketball-reference.com doesn't keep advanced stats for preseason. This is also our first time trying out this new preview format, so
complain about it let us know what you think in the comments.
If you haven't done so already, please adjust your time zone settings for your SBNation account. This will save you a lot of headache when trying to find out when the game starts in your area, as the Game Thread(which will be published later on in the day) will show you the start time for the game in your own time zone at the very top. If that doesn't work, you can always use World Time Server to figure out when it starts for you.
Houston Rockets @ San Antonio Spurs
When: October 21, 2010; 7:30PM Spurs Time
Where: AT&T Center - San Antonio, TX
Watch: FSN Houston
By the Numbers
Data source: basketball-reference.com
Without Tiago Splitter's services, we still don't have a clear picture of how the Spurs frontcourt will be able to match up with other teams, or what the minutes distribution will look like. Duncan is obviously still the anchor, though he may have the best help he's had in a long, long time. But with every near double-double, Blair is establishing himself as the man to beat for the spot next to Timmy in the starting lineup. Antonio McDyess and Matt Bonner should round out the big man rotaion, with Marcus Cousin possibly playing a very limited role before he's jettisoned to Austin.
Houston is one of Blair's favorite opponents, with Scola not providing a great physical or shotblocking presence on the defensive end. On the offensive end, however, Scola is practically a god. And everybody knows Yao is one of the best centers in this league when healthy. With Miller, Jordan Hill and Chuck Hayes picking up most of the other minutes in the front court, this Houston team is deep and versatile up front. Not quite dominant, but enough to have the edge over the Tiago-less Spurs.
Over the last decade, the Spurs backcourt has slowly evolved from just "solid" to probably the best backcourt in the league. With Tony and Manu taking the summer off, and Tony seeming to have his burst back, the backcourt may be poised for its most dominant season yet. George Hill has had a very rocky shooting preseason thus far, but has still found other ways to contribute(it bears mentioning that Manu was shooting just as badly until the last game). James Anderson has been solid, but he's also played a bit tentatively - as a rookie, that's to be expected, but I'd like to see the kid attack a little more. Speaking of attacking more, Richard Jefferson is averaging nearly double the number of FT attempts per game in preseason as he did last season. If he and Neal can get their act together with regards to shooting percentages, the Spurs backcourt will be an unstoppable force, striking fear into all that dare oppose them.
The Houston backcourt is one of the few that can compete with that of the Spurs... on the offensive end. Brooks, Lowry, and Martin can all score in bunches, and are extremely difficult to guard. Lee is a solid two-way player who probably wishes he hadn't spent last season in New Jersey(who wouldn't wish that), but should find a nice niche backing up both wing positions. And the long-standing unrequited love Spurs fans have for Shane Battier is warranted, as he is still one of the smartest defensive players in this league. When Battier's out, someone needs to stay close to Chase Budinger and make sure he's not getting open looks at the basket. This will be one of their tougher matchups, but the Spurs should have the edge here.
48 Minutes of Hell - Our Spurs-blogging colleagues always have good analysis, and this year's been no exception so far.
The Dream Shake - Our SBN siblings always put together good reading material, but beware: they have very strong opinions. They feel good about their team, and rightfully so. Go check 'em out.
This game is not on TV in the San Antonio market. However, it should be available through NBA League Pass, and it will be shown in Houston.
WOAI 1200AM; Audio League Pass[web streaming]
As always, NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area.
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. You can also shoot an email to email@example.com(IMPORTANT: Please include your PtR username in the email for reference) for further assistance.