San Antonio Spurs vs. Charlotte BobcatsAT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
February 28, 2014, 7:30 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI
The San Antonio Spurs moved within 1.5 games of the Western Conference lead with a home-victory over Detroit coupled with an OKC loss to Cleveland on the road. Through all of the injuries, different lineups and overall chaos on the roster, the Spurs are right where they want to be as the season starts down the final stretch. We all got a glimpse of what this team can look like with a full stable of players last night against Detroit. San Antonio is still without Tony Parker, but it welcomed back Kawhi Leonard and he immediately made his presence felt on both ends of the court.
It wasn't a perfect game for San Antonio in the win over Detroit. The Pistons match up pretty well against San Antonio despite the difference in records, but the ball movement was outstanding and the Spurs showed their biggest strength when healthy: depth. The Spurs had eight players score in double figures and Danny Green almost made it nine. It has been a frustrating season at times for a lot of Spurs fans because of all the injuries, but those injuries may make this team better in the long run as guys like Patty Mills, Boris Diaw and Marco Bellinelli have been forced into heavy minutes.
The Pistons beat San Antonio on the Rodeo Road Trip, and tonight the Spurs get to host another team they faced on the road when the Charlotte Bobcats stroll into town fresh off a Saturday victory against Memphis. Charlotte doesn't have a lot of offensive firepower, ranking in the bottom-third of the league in points, rebounds and assists, but it is fifth in the league in points allowed. The Bobcats have been bottom-dwellers for much of their existence, but if the season ended right now Charlotte would be the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference despite holding a 27-30 record. The Bobcats have won four straight games heading into the matchup with San Antonio. Charlotte is above .500 at home, but the Bobcats are just 12-16 on the road.
San Antonio beat Charlotte 104-100 on February 8, outscoring the Bobcats by five points in the fourth quarter to take the win. Patty Mills went off in that game, scoring 32 points while collecting seven rebounds, dishing out four assists and recording two steals. Al Jefferson led the way for Charlotte with 26 points, nine rebounds, three assists, three blocks and four steals. San Antonio had Tony Parker for that game, but he was obviously hampered with injury and only recorded 26 minutes. San Antonio won the game without Green, Leonard, Belinelli and Tiago Splitter in the lineup. All but Parker should be in uniform tonight.
The key to beating Charlotte essentially comes down to scoring over 100 points. Teams that have been able to stop the Bobcats from grinding out the game and keeping it low scoring tend to have a lot of success against Charlotte because it is a roster incapable of lighting up the scoreboard on any given night. Watching Charlotte is a lot like watching Memphis, so the Spurs should have a pretty good understanding of what will work and what won't tonight against the Bobcats.
Kemba Walker is becoming the scorer he was in college, adding over 30 in the win against Memphis. He is second on the team with 18.4 points per game, but he has played really good basketball over the past few weeks. He leads the team in assists and steals. No matter how much Walker is improving as a combo guard in this league, the Bobcats offense still goes through Jefferson. The former Utah Jazz big man is quietly having a terrific season for Charlotte. He is one of a handful of players in this league averaging a double-double. He leads the Bobcats with 20.5 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.
Outside of those two, however, Charlotte struggles to find easy offense in the half court. Josh McRoberts has gotten healthy and that has helped, but role players like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Gerald Henderson are not offensive weapons on a consistent basis. The bench has names like Ben Gordon and Cody Zeller, but Charlotte doesn't have a guy off of the bench that can come in and run the second unit like the better teams in the league.
Matchup to watch: The Spurs did a great job with ball movement against Detroit, racking up over 30 assists with equal scoring around the roster. If that carries over to this game with Charlotte, the Bobcats have little chance of keeping up. The key for the Spurs will be to score points and dictate the pace. Keeping Jefferson off of the glass and Walker to under 30 points will be the key on defense.
Bobcats perspective can be found here: Rufus on Fire
Game Prediction: Spurs by 5.
Line in Vegas: Spurs by 8 1/2.
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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