Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs @ Philadelphia 76ers

San Antonio Spurs @ Philadelphia 76ers

Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
February 8th, 2012, 6:00 PM Spurs Time
TV: Fox Sports SW - RADIO: WOAI 1200

The Spurs are in Philadelphia to challenge the red hot 76ers in a showdown between the third place team in the West and the third place team in the East. Tonight's match kicks off four games in a row in the Eastern Conference for SA, who has only played three such games so far. While Philly is a legit three seed regardless of tonight's outcome, the Spurs still have some work to do to prove they belong that high. Coming back west with at least three wins out of four will help us hang on through Manu Ginobili's eventual return and the All-Star break.

The Sixers might be without Elton Brand, listed as day-to-day with a sprained thumb. Brand is a fairly important cog in their league leading defense, but Spencer Hawes can rebound just as well and won't be a pushover for Duncan either. Tony Parker will have to have a good game against the defense of Jrue Holiday for us to win as the 76ers have excellent perimeter defenders. Don't expect much in the way of fast-break chances for Tony, however - these Sixers are the best team in the NBA at avoiding turnovers by a large margin. In their last game, a win over the Lakers, the Sixers had just four turnovers all game.

118830_spurs_grizzlies_basketball_medium

via cdn0.sbnation.com

With the ball in Tony Parker's hands we have a credible offensive threat to pair with those well-covered three-point shooters. Tony's shooting numbers are down a bit from where they usually are, but he's been getting assists and getting to the line enough to make up for it. In four February games he's averaging 26 points and 7 assists on 51% shooting. As role players find their niche and focus on their specialty it's increasingly up to Parker to manage the offense by himself. The frontcourt scoring comes and goes, partly by design, but we can't beat quality teams without superior guard play and it's encouraging to see TP embrace that responsibility.

At 6-2 Lou Williams is much too tall to play Allen Iverson for Philly, but this season he's been providing that role for them off the bench. Williams scores, passes and rarely turns the ball over, skills that keep the offense humming while the bigger name players like Iguodala and Thaddeus Young rest. Jrue Holiday is the starter and probably the better defender but Lou Williams has been the bigger factor in their surprise season.

These teams don't allow or draw many fouls, so the balance of the game is probably going to be whether Tony has a good night and which team can get the most quality two pointers. With their superb half-court defense Philadelphia has the edge in that kind of battle. If Parker doesn't get going or if Mad Chemist Popovich can't brew up something new and clever for our offense I predict a tough game for the silver and black. Behold your lineups:

Lineups

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

Key Bench Players
Gary Neal
Tiago Splitter
Danny Green

Lineups

Starters
PG: Jrue Holiday
SG: Jodie Meeks
SF: Andre Iguodala
PF: Elton Brand
C: Spencer Hawes

Key Bench Players
Lou Williams
Thaddeus Young
Evan Turner

NBA Stats Cube Lineup Comparison Here. The 76ers' perspective can be found here: Liberty Ballers

Game Prediction: Philadelphia 76ers by 7. The Spurs have four games in the East and this first one is by far the hardest. We'll need a strong night from the guards and a bit of rim luck to win in Philly.

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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