San Antonio Spurs @ Washington WizardsVerizon Center, Washington D.C.
February 5, 2014, 6:05 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI
Behind a huge night from Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, the San Antonio Spurs extended their current win-streak to two games and kicked off the Rodeo Road Trip with a victory on Monday against New Orleans. Trailing for much of that game, the Spurs carved up the Pelicans in the fourth quarter to win the game, 102-95. The rust in his shot was apparent, but getting Danny Green back from injury was huge for the team, especially on defense. The Spurs should continue to improve as the team gets healthy and Green's offensive game comes back around.
The next stage of the Rodeo Road Trip is a visit to Washington tonight to take on the Wizards, a team that's over .500 on the season for the first time since 2009. Sitting at 24-23 after a victory over Portland on Monday, the Wizards are in position to make a run at having one of the top-four spots in the Eastern Conference by the time the season ends.
GIF Breakdown: Spurs at Pelicans
The Spurs won the first game of the Rodeo Road Trip, despite being down by 14 early in the fourth. Let's have a look at some of the plays that stood out in Monday night's win over the Pelicans.
The Wizards are led by electric point guard John Wall who, although maybe the fastest player in the league with the ball in his hands, can still be careless at times. In their recent victory against Portland, Wall led the way with 22 points on 15 shots. He also added five assists, five rebounds, three steals and two blocks to just two turnovers on the game. Trevor Ariza scored 20 from his small forward position while Kevin Seraphin came off of the bench and added 19 points from the post.
With the win over Portland, Washington proved that it is a team capable of knocking off even the best teams from the Western Conference, especially at home. But while the Wizards are capable of playing with anyone in this league right now, they're also capable of laying an egg on any given night. One of the tougher things to do in the NBA is to win with expectations.
The Wizards haven't had many expectations – unless landing in the Lottery counts – for much of the past few years. This is starting to become the team that Washington envisioned when thanks to the selections of Wall and Bradley Beal, but the consistency, especially on offense, is still something that needs to be improved before the Wizards are counted on as a true contender in the East.
As a team, Washington is statistically quite middle-of-the-road. They're just 19th in points per game, averaging 98.7 points, eighth in the league in assists, and 16th in rebounding. Washington's offense is tough to stop in the initial possession, but as long as the Spurs block out, the Wizards pose little threat on the offensive glass. Surprisingly, they're becoming a very good defensive team, giving up the 10th fewest points per game in the league at 98.8 a night.
Wall leads the team with a 20.2 PER, but three other Wizards players are over 16. Ariza has been fantastic on the wing this year, scoring over 16 points a game on top of six rebounds, nearly two steals, and terrific one-on-one defense. Big men like Nene Hilario and Marcin Gortat have stabilized Washington in the lane. Add the bench presence of Seraphin, and the Wizards have a pretty deep rotation in the paint.
Offensively, however, Washington does take a big dip when the starters are not on the floor, and that is where San Antonio should have the advantage, especially with a healthier roster than San Antonio has been used to over the past month. The Wizards do not have a lot of perimeter scoring off of the bench, so if the San Antonio starters can keep pace with the Washington starters, the Spurs bench should be able to increase leads and put San Antonio in a position to finish off another young team in the fourth quarter.
Matchup to watch: We may need a slow-motion camera to really appreciate the matchup between Wall and Parker tonight. Parker is still one of the quicker and craftier point guards in the league, while Wall has as much pure athleticism as any point guard in the game.
Wizards perspective may be found at Bullets Forever.
Game Prediction: Spurs by 7.
Line in Vegas: Wizards by 1.
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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