Good news, Spurs fans. The Spurs are playing a team other than the Hornets, Clippers, Warriors, and Timberwolves. Even though I enjoy wins as much as anybody else does, playing the same teams over and over again gets really old. That was the good news.
The bad news is, we're facing a team that is probably going to be a matchup nightmare for the 2010-11 Spurs. The Spurs are going to have a height and size disadvantage at almost every position tonight. They're starting legit 7-footer Jason Collins at center, and have moved Al Horford to PF, Josh Smith to SF, and Marvin Williams to SG. Not only that, but their defense seems to be constructed in such a way as to minimize the strengths of our offense. Ruh-roh.
Let's hope the guys wearing white and black tonight can make 'em pay.
Since the Spurs kicked butt the last time I used a song from an industrial band/group, I'm just going to go ahead and post another.
Don't forget your glow sticks.
Let's do it.
San Antonio Spurs vs Atlanta Hawks
Where: AT&T Center
When: 12/10/2010, 7:30PM Spurs Time - Timezone Converter
By the Numbers
Data source: basketball-reference.com
PG: I only ask one thing of Tony tonight, other than for him to be himself: Don't leave Bibby open from downtown. He's leading the NBA in 3-point percentage, and with all the other problems Atlanta's "tall ball" lineup will pose for us, we don't need Mike freaking Bibby beating us with 3's.
SG: No Joe Johnson tonight, which means that Manu's advantage is ever greater at the position, but likely also means that the Hawks' offense will become more free-flowing and less predictable. Marvin Williams is a guy that I've secretly (or not-so-secretly) wanted on the Spurs for a while, but after Childress left, the Hawks decided they couldn't afford to let him go. Smart move. He's playing out of postion, but he's young and athletic, which should minimize the risk.
SF: Oh my goodness. I love RJ 2.0, but this is the mismatch from hell for him. Smith is taller, just as fast, and more athletic than Rage, and he's shooting better both from the field and from beyond the arc. So this time, the Spur belongs to RJ's opponent.
PF: Nothing like a couple of games against the Warriors to make DeJuan look good, but this is another mismatch from hell. Not only is Horford crazy athletic, and good at almost everything, he's currently third in the league(regardless of position) in PER. Yikes. I hope Blair can hold his own, because we're going to need every little bit we can get to offset Horford's dominance.
C: Look, Jason Collins. I'm sure you're a decent player, otherwise your coach would not have inexplicably moved both Smith and Horford to the starting forward spots. But, you're no Tim Duncan. Speaking of Timmy, we're probably gonna need the big guy to score a little more than normal tonight. I know he won't let us down.
The Atlanta bench is usually good enough to merit a tie, but with both Johnson and Zaza Pachulia out, they're not as deep as we are.
Larry Drew has given the Hawks an actual offensive system that doesn't rely on one player to create almost everything they get. That said, count the rings and look at the NBA standings.
You can't teach height. Or athleticism. A veritable forest of long arms in the paint means that the Spurs might have trouble finishing at the rim. Which is bad, because it's one of the keys to the Spurs' offense. The other one is three-point shooting, which(as I'll explain below) will also be difficult tonight.
Best start in Spurs history. We're on top of the league right now, looking down, and it's gotta give our guys confidence, especially seeing how long we've been there already.
Another W for the good guys. Not an easy W, mind you, but a W nonetheless.
Keys to the Game
Rebounding - Atlanta, despite having such athletic bigs, is a below-average rebounding team. Hopefully, this is a trait that we can exploit, giving us some extra possessions to work with.
Ball and player movement - Atlanta is the 4th best team in the league at defending the 3-ball, forcing their opponents to shoot 32% from beyond the arc on the season. Combine that with their freakishly tall starting lineup, and you start to see why the Spurs' offense(dependent on 3-point shooting and penetration) might struggle a bit. However, their bigs tend to struggle with the pick-and-roll(Splitter, anyone?), and if the ball keeps zipping around to players in motion, we should be able to confuse, and ultimately beat them. This obviously starts with Tony and Manu, but is not limited to them.
Force Turnovers - Possibly the Hawks' greatest strength on offense this year has been their passing, as they have a greater percentage of assisted field goals than even the Spurs. If you can make them hesitant to move the ball around, you take them out of their gameplan. Turnovers also give us extra possessions, which is always a good thing. Get those hands in the passing lanes, guys.
48 Minutes of Hell - Check out the advanced scouting report posted on gamedays for great in-depth analysis of the day's matchups.
Peachtree Hoops(SB Nation) - Atlanta fans are digging the new ultra-tall lineup. Don't forget to write in the subject line if you visit them.
You can catch this one on Fox Sports Southwest in San Antonio, or SportSouth TV in Atlanta(shout out to my uncle and grandparents!).
WOAI 1200AM; Audio League Pass[streaming]
As always, 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. You can also shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org(IMPORTANT: Please include your PtR username in the email for reference) for further assistance.