Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Orlando Magic

San Antonio Spurs @ Orlando Magic

Amway Center, Orlando Florida
January 18, 6:00 PM Spurs Time
TV: Fox Sports Southwest - RADIO: WOAI

Experience and preparation will clash with exhaustion and the luck of the bounce when the Spurs face the Magic in Orlando tonight. Either club could use the win, with the Spurs 0-5 on the road and the 10-3 Magic trying to sway Dwight Howard into rescinding his trade demand. Quality coaching means the effort will be there, but both teams played last night so expect some uglyball moments as well. Evenly matched opponents with evenly tired legs means San Antonio needs to steal this baby, however they can, before it's back to the Western Conference grind.

The Orlando Magic have been a sister city to the Spurs for the last few years, similar without much real history between them. Both squads combine accurate shooting with defense, especially the art of defensive rebounding. Here's a quick list of performance in a number of categories, rank from '07 to '11:

NBA Rank


SA

Spurs



ORL

Magic



2008

2009

2010

2011

2008

2009

2010

2011

Offense

15th
11th
9th
2nd
7th
13th
4th
14th

Defense

3rd
5th
8th
11th
5th
1st
3rd
3rd

Off. shooting

10th
5th
7th
1st
2nd
3rd
2nd
6th

Def. shooting

5th
7th
5th
10th
6th
1st
1st
3rd

Def. rebound

1st
1st
4th
10th
7th
2nd
1st
1st

Magic and the Spurs usually perform better in the shooting and defensive rebounding areas than their overall rank on offense or defense. We both take as many threes as we can and excel at making them. We've been trading defense for offense and they've been slipping gradually, but as long as Howard and Van Gundy are in Orlando and Duncan and Popovich are in San Antonio these teams will rank near the top in these categories.

This is probably the last meeting of these teams in the sister-city era, and this may be the season where Chicago, Miami and OKC take over the mantle of 'talent and brains' in the NBA. The Spurs are a lot of work and one healing hand away from taking on the western playoff likelies, let alone the title favorites, and the Magic are stuck with Dwight's short-list of trade partners. For tonight., at least, we get to see a clash of weary titans and one last chess game between CIA Pop and Salami on Rye Gundy.

As a person who's fond of stats I'm not too worried about our Jekyll and Hyde home and road record just yet. This is by and large the same group that was a solid 25-16 on the road last year. After the second half from hell in Miami the Spurs can do their fans a favor and pick up a road win already. We don't want to be in Houston (who does?) but we especially don't want to be in Houston with zero road wins to play the Rockets, who took our first road game by twenty.

I'm taking the same wait-and-see approach with Tony Parker, whose shot has gone missing at the wrong time. He's still distributing the ball well with few turnovers, and his playbook with Duncan and Blair couldn't be more practiced and perfected, so I don't expect him or Pop to make a change to improve the offense. I'd bet the focus is on our defense and the bench units that let it get out of hand last night in Miami. As long as Mike Miller isn't playing we have a chance. Below I have prepared your lineups and a prediction.

Lineups

Starters
PG: Tony Parker
SG: Kawhi Leonard
SF: Richard Jefferson
PF: Tim Duncan
C: DeJuan Blair

Key Bench Players
Gary Neal
Tiago Splitter
Matt Bonner

Lineups

Starters
PG: Jameer Nelson
SG: J.J. Reddick
SF: Hedo Turkoglu
PF: Ryan Anderson
C: Dwight Howard

Key Bench Players
Glen Davis
Quentin Richardson
Chris Duhon

***PREDICTION: Spurs by Four *** I don't know how we contain Dwight, but we get more threes to fall than they do and escape Florida with a win.

NBA Stats Cube Lineup Comparison Here. The Orlando perspective can be found here: Orlando Pinstriped Post

As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and 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.

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