In the second leg of their three-game preseason road trip, the Spurs head to Atlanta on Thursday to take on the Hawks. The game tips off at 6:30pm CDT.
The Spurs roster is now down to 16 players after the team waived Corey Maggette, Marcus Cousin and Myck Kabongo on Tuesday. Training camp pickups Dan Nwaele and Courtney Fells remain on the team and should both see the floor tonight, though neither is expected to make the final roster.
The focus instead will be on the rounding out of the bench rotation, as Cory Joseph, Nando de Colo and Patty Mills continue to battle for the backup point guard role. Joseph has been a steady and efficient game-manager and appears to be the front-runner so far. De Colo meanwhile has shown flashes of good offense, but has also been turnover-prone. Mills seems to be buried behind the two right now, but could see more minutes than usual tonight.
This will be the first time Pop finds himself on the other side of the scorer's table from former assistant Mike Budenholzer. Coach Bud spent 18 years with the Spurs before accepting the job as head coach for the Atlanta Hawks earlier this year.
Atlanta, who essentially exchanged Josh Smith for Paul Millsap at the power forward slot this offseason, will look to see what they have in the frontcourt pairing of Millsap and Al Horford. Though both are natural power forwards, Horford will play the more traditional center role on offense, although he generally prefers to face up against his defender. The Hawks will also be without bench players Lou Williams and Gustavo Ayon.
Even without the perimeter touch of scorer Lou Williams, expect the Hawks to stretch the floor with their shooting. Kyle Korver, John Jenkins and even Jeff Teague can all hit from the outside, and will look to create room for Horford and Millsap to operate down low. While the Hawks have spent years trying to develop Teague as a traditional point guard, it'll be interesting to see if Coach Bud - after watching Tony flourish as a score-first point guard - can do something different.
The Spurs, offensively, might want to see a bit more of what they have in offseason pickups Jeff Ayres and Marco Belinelli, who have had fairly nondescript showings so far in the preseason. Kawhi Leonard, who showcased plenty of aggressiveness in the last game against the Nuggets, will hopefully bring more of the same through iso situations, and pushing the ball on the break. The Spurs are counting on Leonard to fill out a bigger role on the offensive end this season.
Turnovers marred the Spurs' loss against Denver and, win or lose, Pop will certainly want to improve on that tonight. 22 is too many, even in preseason. Look for the team to limit their mistakes and execute in the pick-and-roll much better than they did against the Nuggets.
Hawks perspective can be found at Peach Tree Hoops.
Game Prediction: Spurs by two
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.