The San Antonio Spurs are rolling. Yes, rolling. After withstanding a spate of injuries to forwards Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson, as well as Manu Ginobili getting off to a slow start due to back spasms, the Spurs, who went a decent 19-8 in their first 27 games, have quietly won 17 of their last 20 games. In the same span of games, the Heat have won a "mere" 13 of 20, the Thunder have also won a mere 13 of 20, the Knicks are playing .500 ball in their past 20, and the Grizzlies have won 12 of their last 20. As of this writing, the Spurs sit a game ahead of the Thunder in the Western Conference standings, and Gregg Popovich looks increasingly a lock to coach his third All-Star game.
Now on to the opponent of the day, the Charlotte Bobcats. These 'Cats aren't your 7-59 model for futility from last year. They're better, but not by much. After a 7-5 start that had people wondering if they would be a borderline playoff team, they've since only won 4 more games, with a nearly winless December before they pulled out a win on New Year's Eve against the Bulls.
The primary reason behind their horrible record is that they can't generate good shots (dead last in the league in eFG%), despite being a team that gets to the line a lot (2nd in FT/FGA) and doesn't turn the ball over a lot (5th in TOV%). They can't defend well (29th in opponent eFG%, as well as dead last in opponent 3P%), and let their opponents get a lot of second chance points (29th in DRB%). Their inability to defend the three point line cost them the first game in their season series with San Antonio, especially with the Silver and Black making a franchise record 20 threes (on only 30 attempts) en route to a 132-102 blowout. Their ability to get to the foul line will also be tested, as the Spurs rank 3rd in opponent FT/FGA, despite playing more physical on defense.
So, the only key to the game is whether we see Danny Green get going early from beyond the arc. If he makes his first triple, it's gonna be a cakewalk. If Kawhi Leonard gets his first corner 3 in, it should be a doozy. If Tony Parker makes a corner 3 (side note: TP just joined the 20 PPG club and is 5th in the entire league in win shares per 48 minutes), it's a likely win. If even guys like Tim Duncan (who, as of this writing, may still not play, depending on Pop's mood) make a three, it's a blowout. If Tiago Splitter makes a 3 from the top of the key, the Bobcats' lack of perimeter D is simply preposterous and we will all just need to go home.
Bobcats perspective can be found here: Rufus on Fire
Game Prediction: Spurs take a double digit lead halfway through the second quarter and we get to see extended minutes of Aron Baynes. Spurs by 12.
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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