Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The AT&T Center Welcomes the Philadelphia 76ers.

San Antonio Spurs vs Philadelphia 76ers

The AT&T Center
Janurary 5th, 7:00 PM CST
TV: CSP,FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

The San Antonio Spurs are taking on the Philadelphia 76ers tonight at the AT&T Center. Game time starts at 7:00pm central time. Get your San Antonio Spurs tickets here!

The Philadelphia 76ers are a likable team. They are an Eastern Conference team so that automatically puts 50 points in their favor. They also conduct their franchise in a respectable way. They are polar opposites of the now double headed schadenfreude going on in New York. There is no drama, no finger pointing and no high expectations. When they win it is cool, when they don't then no big deal. They also trade fairly, which is to say trades are not an obvious win for them. And this brings us to the 2012-2013 version of the 76ers. After watching them off and on this year it is obvious that they are pretty good team, that could be great. What is holding them back? Why is their record 15-18 when it could be much better? How can a team that recently did this, do this, and then do this?

These questions can be answered with two words. (Though technically a name is not a word, especially if we are going by Scrabble rules.)

Andrew Bynum

Philadelphia's woes start and stop with Mr. Bynum. The year end review over at the excellent blog Liberty Ballers might as well have been titled "Get well soon Andrew Bynum". Even when healthy he has his issues, but perhaps those just stemmed from being in LA-LA land. Anyways we don't know because he is injured and this is causing problems for a short handed team. Worst case scenario: if he doesn't come back and doesn't sign a contract soon, he cost the 76ers one of the best swing-men ever for naught. Not to mention all that money. Best case scenario: he comes back soon and contributes to the team. So this game is going to be a bit hard to watch. It feels like we are playing an incomplete team. The NBA is a cruel place that is sometimes dictated by fortune. Fortune is smiling upon the Spurs who are currently benefiting from a combination of good luck and a stable off-season. Meanwhile the 76ers are impeded by bad luck and a tumultuous off-season. But perhaps the writing was on the wall from the onset. Clint Peterson from Hardwood Proxium had this to say in their ridiculously long season preview :

"The Sixers pushed the Boston Celtics to the brink of elimination -- this, a Celtics squad who in turn pushed the Miami Heat to their very own brink. So Philly was for real. Past tense. They now lack depth and backcourt toughness -- their biggest strength -- after being pillaged of Jodie Meeks and Andre Iguodala in favor of Nick Young and Jason Richardson. Sixers fans pinning their hopes on Drew Bynum, a little advice: Don't. He's waited for his shot to be "The Man," and now has it. Last season the Sixers rang in at tenth in assists as a team. Now with the likes of ball dominant players like J-Rich, Nick "I Need To Learn To Shoot More Better" Young, and "It's MY Turn" Bynum, if Doug Collins doesn't retire for good I'll eat a Philly steak and cheese out of my hat."

All that doom and gloom aside, Philadelphia could turn it around and become a consistently good basketball team. And with a boatload of young and skilled players on board they could right this ship sooner rather than later.( with or without the afromentioned Bynum) (get it ? "afro" not afore) However I am calling this game in favor of the Spurs, and I am fairly confident in my prediction. This confidence is stemmed from looking at both of the team's active rosters.

Point Guard

Jrue Holiday/ Royal Ivey vs. Tony Parker/Patty Mills/ Nando De Colo

Jrue Holiday is a really good point guard. And at the age of 22 he is bound to improve. If the 76ers make this game close it will be because of Mr. Holiday. However what will likely happen is that many of his shots will be contested, and while he will probably put up a good stat line it will not be enough to push his team over the edge. This is because of who is playing opposite Mr. Holiday. Tony Parker is playing spectacular basketball these days. He is playing at the kind of level only a very elite few are capable of. Patty and/or Nando will continue doing what they do which is at first look like they are just plugging a necessary hole for a short amount of time, but end up making a quick burst of fantastic plays. Royal Ivey is a journeyman and will be outmatched if he steps out to replace Jrue.

Shooting Guard

Jason Richardson/ Nick Young vs. Danny Green/ Manu Ginobili/"Gary Neal"

By name recognition alone this seems to be not that bad of a mismatch. And the math offers no strong rebuttals. Nick Young is averaging 10.1 points per game while Jason Richardson is averaging 11.2 points per game. These are not very different from Danny and Manu's averages. And this is where numbers are a bunch of bullocks. Would you honestly trade Manu Ginobili for Nick Young? Would you trade Danny Green for Jason Richardson? How about Danny Green for Jason Richardson AND Nick Young? Yeah I didn't think so. It is an established fact that Manu when in the zone could blow Nick Young or Jason Richardson out of the water. It is also apparent that Danny Green will likely continue his progression towards being a franchise cornerstone. As for Jason Richardson, he was absolutely dreadful against Portland the other night, and is generally showing a digression. Nick Young is as unpredictable as ever but I don't see him catching lightning with our pesky guards and a certain swingman in his way. Gary is in quotations because he played point guard against the Knicks, so it is really hard to tell what position he is going to play in. It would not be total surprise if Neal sees time at the center position.

Small Forward

Thaddeus Young/ Dorell Wright vs. Kawhi Leonard/ Mystery Man

Stephen Jackson was injured during Thursday's horrible game against the Knicks.( talk about adding salt to a wound right?) So who knows what the small forward spot is going to look like for the Spurs. For discussion purposes lets just say that Danny Green will play some time in that position. Even if it could be Manu or anyone else for that matter. Assuming Green is playing there we have another match-up that on paper does not appear to be a total lock either way. But statistics once again don't explain the entire story. Dorell racks up 8.6 points per game, while Thaddeus drains 15 points per game. Kawhi is at 7.9 points per game, while Danny Green is averaging 10.2 points per game. In fact on pure points per game, Philly looks like they have the advantage. Percentages tell a slightly different tale: Thaddeus makes 53.5% of his shots and Dorell makes 37% of them while Kawhi is shooting 56.2 percent and Danny is shooting 40.6%. So once again according to basic stats this looks like a stalemate, with San Antonio holding a slight advantage on efficiency and Philly holding a slight advantage on total points. But once again observational logic refutes this outlook. Kawhi is transforming into an elite defender right in front of our eyes, and will almost assuredly make life difficult for Thaddeus Young. Danny has a sense of the moment that is almost unparalleled. However my observations have mainly been centered around the Spurs, and Philly fans really seem to like their two small forwards. So let's call this one a draw and move on.

Power Forward

Evan Turner/ Arnett Moultrie vs. Tim Duncan/ Matt Bonner

This is a match-up of a good player with much potential and someone who has very few minutes versus a legend and Tim Duncan. Seriously though, Timmeh is playing at a kind of level that is cementing his status as one of the greatest to ever play the game.( as if said cementing was even needed) Matt Bonner is showing some improvements which is weird to type so I am going to stop. Evan Turner is good and sometimes can be brilliant but he is not Tim Duncan. And while Matt Bonner is certainly more experienced than the rookie Arnett , I don't see Mr. Moultrie seeing many minutes tonight.

Center

Lavoy Allen/ Spencer Hawes / Kwame Brown vs. Tiago Splits/ Boris Diaw/ DeJuan Blair

Lavoy is an intriguing player who is getting better but is hardly a household name. He is averaging 6.4. points and 5.2 rebounds. People residing in Ben Franklin's hood don't have much faith in Spencer Hawes these days. Kwame Brown is this guy. It is obvious that two of these guys are supposed to be bench players and one of these guys is supposed to playing in the Lietuvos krepšinio lyga. Splits is averaging 9.5 points and 4.9 rebounds and Diaw is not far behind with 6 points and 3.6 boards. While these numbers are not MVP caliber stats this match up is a clear win for the Spurs.

Advanced Stats ( Game analysis)

You might have noticed that there are no advanced stats in this preview. It might even lead you to think that I don't even know what advanced stats are. But I totally do. I've seen Moneyball. And yeah they do have their place. This is particularly the case in analysis pieces, which this is not. (even though the word analysis is literally part of the headline for this section ) This is a rant featuring totally fact-less predictions observed through a subjected silver and black tainted lens.

But for experiment's sake I am going to listen to what advanced stats have to say. Here is what advanced stats say: "The Spurs are better." Alright how did I do that? Well I used the trendy "Player Efficiency Rating". It is a super long formula. So brace yourselves. Side note: feel free to skip this section if : you already know the formula ,math makes you want to break something expensive containing a lot of glass, math makes you slightly bored , you have the formula tattooed to the back of your hand, your name is John Hollinger.

" Points + (Field Goals Made x 0.4) + ( Field Goals Attempted x -0.7) + ((Free Throws Attempted-Free Throws Made) x -0.4) + (Offensive Rebounds x 0.7) + (Defensive Rebounds x 0.3) + Steals + (Assists x 0.7) + (Blocks x 0.7) + (Personal Fouls x -0.4) - Turnovers"

Why is this formula so important? I don't know man. In fact anybody who says that they know is full of fecal matter. Anyhow here is what the player efficiency rating says: Spur's per by position (PG/SG/SF/PF/C) is 20.2/14.7/13/14.5/23.5 on offense and 15.2/12.7/12.9/16.5/15.6 on defense (when looking at defensive per lower is better, duh right?) On the other hand, Philly's offensive per by position is 16.1/12.6/15.2/17.9/14.4 and on defense they are 15.6/13.2/16.3/15.0/19.1. So according to Hollinger's love child, the Spurs have an advantage on both sides of the ball. Don't get me wrong it is cool to get the seal of approval from numbers, but it wasn't all that necessary. I am somebody who would call the Spurs even if they were playing a team consisting of a starting five of the Avengers* and a bench composed of the NS-5 robots.

* The four famous ones plus Antman. He gets the starting nod over the other remaining Avengers because he can grow to over a 100 feet tall. Though in some comic books he is called "The Giant" when he does this. Interestingly enough in others he is called "The Goliath" and I am going to stop there because the more I type, the more lame this explanation sounds.

Lineups

Starters
PG: Tony Parker
SG: Danny Green
SF: Kawhi Leonard
PF: Tim Duncan
C: Boris Diaw

Key Bench Players
Manu Ginobili
Tiago Splitter
Gary Neal

Head Coach
Gregg Popovich

Lineups

Starters
PG: Jrue Holiday
SG: Jason Richardson
SF: Thaddeus Young
PF: Evan Turner
C: Lavoy Allen

Key Bench Players
Spencer Hawes
Nick Young
Dorell Wright


Head Coach

Doug Collins

Philly's perspective can be found here: Liberty Ballers

Game Prediction: Spurs by 10

Game Previewers Prediction Records & points off per prediction

Wes Thorne 9-1* (-1, 0, 23, 2, -8*,1, 28, 10, 0, 2) *@MIA

Joe deLarios 8-2 (-1, 3, 5, 0, 1, 6,-11, -3, 16, 14)

Fred 3-2 (3, -8, 20, 0)

Racm 3-3 (-25, -14, -5, 15, 12, 1)

Stijl 1-1 (-12, 11)

CapHill 1-0 (13)

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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