Once upon a time in Mexico, the Spurs and T-Wolves were slated to play a game that didn't happen on account of an electrical fire. In true Wild West fashion, the two sides will attempt to duel again in the Alamo City -- just nine days later after their attempted contest went up in smoke.
Back in the safe confines of the AT&T Center, those dastardly T-Wolves come to town sporting their high-powered offense and formidable rebounding. After the Spurs' recent struggles with elite teams, the Silver and Black was able to bounce back with a few games against Leastern Conference fodder -- Minnesota won't be such an easy out. These T-Pups have given the Spurs trouble over the last few years and this year's version (with a core that's healthy at last) is perhaps their best team to date.
The Spurs may struggle with the size of the Wolves front line, especially if Aron Baynes and Tiago Splitter can't play tonight. Kevin Love and that one other guy whose name is much harder to spell than Love's will be causing the Spurs all sorts of issues on the inside. I anticipate, much to the chagrin of Stampler, a heavy dose of Matt Bonner. I don't necessarily think that this would be a wise move by Pop, but I can't see a way where the Red Rocket doesn't see a lot of the floor with Splitter and Baynes out.
One of the more interesting matchups to watch is that of the poing guards. Tony Parker, a longtime member of the "Elite Point-Guard Club" will face off with Ricky Rubio, a member of the "Guys Wishing They Were as Good as Tony Parker Club". See what I did there? In reality Rubio is quickly becoming one of the young PG studs in the NBA. I question whether he has the physical tools to really be a super elite player. That said, if surrounded by the right team and coach -- and with some much-needed help on his shooting touch -- I think you could see him reach Steve Nash-type levels. Parker meanwhile is a super stud, and we all know it.
With Minnesota seemingly having the advantage inside, San Antonio will need to take advantage of their wing play. Kevin Martin is a nice player, but Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili should be able to outpace Martin's production to give San Antonio the advantage on the wings. You'll have to forgive me for not being overly worried about Corey Brewer, Robbie Hummel or whoever else is playing wing for the T-Wolves these days, so the Spurs should also have the advantage off the bench on the wings. If the Spurs can create some open looks for their wing players, and hit those open looks, they might be able to offset Minnesota's inside advantage.
Matchup to watch: Tim Duncan vs. Kevin Love. While these two may not match up on each other a lot throughout the game, I'm interested to see how the two best big men on each team fare. Love will likely try to space the floor with his nice outside touch and I doubt Duncan will cover him much out there. We might see Love on Duncan when the Spurs have the ball. It will be interesting to see if Timmeh can make Love and Company work enough on defense to help the Spurs own defense of the T-pups bigs.
The perspective of T-wolves fans can be found here: Canis Hoopus
Game Prediction: Spurs by 4.
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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