The monkey is finally off their backs! The San Antonio Spurs return home with their first road victory of the season against the Orlando Magic. This was a big moral victory for the team, that is very young outside of Duncan, Parker, Bonner and RJ. Although road games will always be tougher, especially in LWM, the victory gives the young players some relief from the pressures of being the only +.500 team to not have a road victory.
After two difficult road games in Flordia, The Spurs (10-5) prepare to face the Keith Smart led Sacramento Kings team (5-10) with their brand of young, athletic and inexperienced play. You never know what to expect with them.
The Sacramento Kings arrive in San Antonio following an impressive comeback victory (92-88), where they outscored Georgie's Indiana Pacers 26-8 in the forth quarter.
Spurs come back home with a classic-Spurs style victory, grinding out a victory, despite the game being super ugly. They were led by Tony Parker, who was on fire in the 4th quarter, scoring 14 of his 25 points to lead the way.
After two difficult games, Spurs get a little treat with the Kings. They lack the experience and consistency to win at that next level, but are always potentially dangerous if you do not take care of the ball.
Pop should have the opportunity to rest his older players and focus on teaching the younger guys how to play within the system. Additionally, this game can serve as a way for players, such as James Anderson to work his way into a routine that breaks him back into the rotation.
However, with each and every game in this shortened season, you never really know what to expect. Although the Spurs only recently pulled off their first road win, as of January 18th, only two teams in the western conference have more than 2 road wins (Denver at 4-3 and OKC at 6-2).
Looking at the team at the moment, there are some items to be happy with and some items that could use some work.
- Parker, looking good, especially taking over games when Spurs need help. 21.7 ppg and 7.7 apg in the last 6 games
- Although there will be times where he looks like a rookie, Leonard's growth is a neat thing to watch. Enough said.
- Green continues to demonstrate why Ferry (who picked him at Cleveland) was eager to sign him
- Splitter continues to look more comfortable
- Blair has been playing more balanced games
- Although Neal is struggling with conditioning, he still can make clutch shots
- Joseph has received time, spelling Parker for important minutes, while also showing off of promise
- Although RJ hasn't shot well from beyond the arc, he is not giving up as easily and still contributing. This is something to continue to watch out for.
- Green's foul on Wafer. Occasionally, Green's defense goes off course. Hopefully the Spurs coaching staff is working on those aspects. Green was quick enough to get back to Reddick, but was caught watching the play, moments before.
- Spurs not adjusting their offense enough. Once Magic adjusted for Parker's penetration, the game became more difficult as no one else could buy a bucket in that forth quarter.
- Splitter needs to learn how to avoid fouling. It is removing him from games at various moments.
- Leonard's first subpar game since starting. How will he respond now that expectations have grown?
- Neal's conditioning is effecting his long distance jump shot
- RJ and Bonner are in a shooting slump. Will home cooking and a night off get them back on track?
- James Anderson is suffering on the bench, especially with lack of practice. If not for the Manu and Ford injuries, he might be in Austin. Will he play?
In order to win, the Spurs must...
- Get back on transition D
- Limit turnovers, but make smart passes to increase ball movement
- Take open shots and avoid playing one-on-one basketball.
- Rebound the ball. Although the Kings shot 30% from the field, they had 30 offensive rebounds against the Pacers
- Win the game early. Put away the young team to avoid giving them opportunities to pull the game out in their favor.
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.