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Game Preview: Spurs vs Warriors

The Spurs are hosting the Warriors, and while Golden State has been playing excellent ball this year, their recent schedule has them looking to get back on track.

Cary Emondson-US PRESSWIRE

San Antonio Spurs vs Golden State Warriors

The AT&T Center
Jan. 18th, 7:30 PM Spurs Time

Well, it's the mid-way point of the season for the Spurs, with game number 42 now upon us, and what better way to christen the beginning of the 2nd half of the season than with my very first game preview ever? If my never having done one of these before surprises you, then it's definitely the right fact to lead off with since the success of today's oppenents has been the main surprise of the league this year.

At the beginning of the season I happened to be listening to a Bill Simmons' podcast which I very rarely do. I'm not much of a consumer of podcasts. I'll listen to a snipped of Dan Patrick's from time to time as a coworker of mine is a big fan and likes to discuss his latest soap box sessions. And I've devoured the majority of the Breaking Bad Insider Podcasts, which is hosted by Kelley Dixon, one of the editors of the program, and Vince Gilligan, who created and runs the show. But aside from that, I'm usually listening to music or sports radio in my car.

But back in late-October, I was giving the B.S. Report a try. And they had one that was all chopped up into little bite-sized pieces, a segment for each team in the league if memory serves, and I might have only got through three or four of them, but the one team I certainly heard Bill discuss was the Warriors, a squad he was very excited about. Not because he expected them to do well. Not at all. In fact, he said they were the roster that was most likely to have a fistfight amongst themselves in the middle of a game. The Ultimate Playground Team, were the words I believed he used, in reference to the way the roster had been assembled.

I don't bring this up in order to hold Simmons up for ridicule (I quite enjoy his stuff, in fact, and up to the middle of last year I'd read every single post he'd written for ESPN), but to point out how out of the blue Golden State's run this year has been. It's not just that they were lightly regarded, they were hardly being regarded at all. The fact that they're the owners of the West's fifth best record, and the league's seventh, is nothing less than remarkable. The way they're playing defense is a credit to Mark Jackson, and they way they've stayed healthy is a ... what's that? Oh, Stephen Curry's ankle has betrayed him again, so I guess -- well I guess the stakes will be more or less even since the Spurs are in the midst of another stretch of LWM, what with Manu being sidelined with that strained hamstring of his.

So the once-again stout San Antonio defense won't have to deal with the über-quick Curry and his 20 points a night, but that doesn't mean that we can sleep on their poing guard seeing as how Jarrett Jack has been known to be quite combustible when lining up against the Silver and Black. He of the double consonants (two J's, two R's and two T's, in case you care) had two excellent games against the Spurs last year and averaged 26.5 points, 7 assists, and shot .561 from the field. Blech.

Their other main guys are David Lee and Klay Thompson, and they're both having terrific seasons. It'll be a treat to see rookie Harrison Barnes go up against Kawhi Leonard as the young small forwards tangle for the first time in their NBA careers. And since Barnes is a Tarheel, be ready to see how Danny Green greets him before the tip-off since he likes to find the other UNC alums for a bit of razzing when he can.

Since the Warriors are a bit thin in the frontcourt, dealing with the latest injury to Andrew Bogut means that they play small. Like, very small. It also means they like to play quick. My favorite description of the current flow chart for Golden State's offense is from Dave of Blazers Edge who recently broke it down as:

1. Do you have a fast break? If yes, then take it. If no, go to 2.

2. Do you have a jump shot available? If yes, then take it. If no, then take it anyway.

3. Did that shot go in? If yes, nod and get back on defense. If no, hope that Lee or Landry rebounds and sticks it back in.

Which makes this game a serious contrast of styles, even if it's not one of efficiency, because while we as Spurs fans are used to watching the opposing offense regularly take shots that would make Pop go all red in the face, the Warriors make their "low-percentage shots" at a very high rate. So let's hope our guys are ready to bring the nasty, as it'll be needed against a very good team who'll be hungry for a win after having dropped their previous two contests (Denver and Miami) and four of their last five.

Random notes: Fatigue doesn't look to be a factor in this one as neither team has been on the road much recently, and both had Thursday night off. | But it is a FIGABABA for the teams as the Spurs take on the Hawks in Atlanta tomorrow while the Warriors' next stop is New Orleans. | The Spurs have played 145 total games against the Warriors, taking 95 of them.


PG: Tony Parker
SG: Danny Green
SF: Kawhi Leonard
PF: Tim Duncan
C: Tiago Splitter

Key Bench Players
Gary Neal
Boris Diaw
Stephen Jackson

Head Coach
Gregg Popovich


PG: Jarrett Jack
SG: Klay Thompson
SF: Harrison Barnes
PF: David Lee
C: Festus Ezeli

Key Bench Players
Carl Landry
Draymond Green
Richard Jefferson

Head Coach

Mark Jackson

The Warriors perspective can be found at Golden State of Mind.

Get your San Antonio Spurs tickets here!

Key Injuries: Manu Ginobili for the Spurs; Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut for the Warriors

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.