A couple of games ago, our boss, JRW, wrote his first ever preview. He's been a part of this community for an even longer time than I have. Which is why we were all surprised he'd never written any. You probably won't be as surprised when it's my turn. But...
This is it, guys. This is it. My first (official) writing for Pounding The Rock (or any other site, for that matter). I give you: My first preview. (Thank you, thank you!)
Last game was a weird one
The first three meetings with the Hornets all had a common theme: defense. Not once was either team able to break the 100-point mark. And then the first quarter on Wednesday ended with a 35-32 score. The Spurs were chasing the Hornets through 3 quarters. Whenever the Spurs came back, they'd make a run. I still thought San Antonio would have a stretch with good defense, which would give us the chance to leap over them. That stretch happened. The win was ours. Some brainfarts in the final minute. Manu free throws and the team pulls it out. Great.
Tonight: The Mavs
This is not a match-up we should take lightly. Dallas has been playing great lately, winning 5 of their last 6, with wins over Memphis, Minnesota (which is hobbled, but can still be a tough out) and Houston. Their only loss came in overtime against OKC. (Have the Mavs and Thunder played any games that didn't come down to the wire in recent years?)
In the two meetings we've had with Dirk this season, he's twice had 8 points, while playing 20 minutes a game coming off the bench. Since he first started again, he's been averaging 16.5 ppg in over 30 minutes per game.
The Spurs, on the other hand, have not been playing their best basketball. Even so, their 6-game winning streak makes them the hottest team in the league right now. After splitting the first six games of January, they've won the last half-dozen, with wins over Minnesota, Memphis (that was a demolition actually), Golden State, Atlanta, Philadelphia and New Orleans. San Antonio was without Kawhi and Tim vs the NOOCH (unfortunately it's time to say goodbye to this nickname), and didn't have Tim in Atlanta.
I just wrote the previous paragraph, and just now realized that Manu didn't play for 4 straight games in this latest stretch. And that's the point about these Spurs! Once again, they're showing they can win while not having their full roster. This gives lesser-used players a chance at playing time and experience, but we'll need everyone to be ready and available if we want to get far in the playoffs.
By the way, everyone who's able should start buying tickets for the All Star game. Tim and Tony WILL be participating. You know who else should be? Pop. Just look at the schedule. Our games before the All Star break are: @DAL, PHO, CHA, WAS, @MIN (start RRT), @DET, @BRO, @CHI, @CLE. Individually, I think the Spurs should win each of those games, but I'd expect them to lose one on the Brooklyn-Chicago BABA. Scott Brooks coached the Western All Stars last year, so he's not allowed to do it this year. And we're already a game and a half in front of the Clippers. They're not likely to catch the Spurs with this schedule.
Tony Parker vs. Darren Collison
Tony has been on a tear lately, while Manu and Tim have been resting. He's taking over in fourth quarters, and doing everything to get his teammates involved. I'm loving the chemistry he's developed with Tiago Splitter.
Darren Collison played for the Pacers, and got benched in favor of Derek Fisher until Fisher asked to be released by the team. That's all I know.
Danny Green vs. OJ Mayo
Danny's shot has been all-or-noithing on since as long as I can remember. He played great D on Eric Gordon in the second half on Wednesday.
Mayo is the Mavs' leading scorer at 18.2 ppg.
Advantage: The Mav
Stephen Jackson vs. Shawn Marion
Jackson had a season-high in points Wednesday with 15. He also had some great passes that lead to easy buckets.
Shawn Marion has the ugliest shot ever, and used to be a great defender. He's slowed down recently though.
Advantage: Cap'n Jack
Boris Diaw vs. Dirk Nowitzki
Boris Diaw is French.
Dirk Nowitzki is German.
In 1945 this would go to "Bobo". Dirk is a legend in 2013 though.
Tiago Splitter vs. Chris Kaman
Remember when we were hoping for Kaman to sign (or was it get traded?) to the Spurs? You feel that in your stomach just thinking about it? Yep, that's right.
Bud vs. Rick Carlisle
Carlisle is a great coach.
Bud is not Pop.
- Tim Duncan and Tony Parker were chosen as All Star reserves yesterday. Great for them.
- This is a FIGABABA, and the first of three games in a span of 4 days.
- Tim Duncan and coach Pop are still unavailable for this game. Also expect Kawhi Leonard not to suit up.
Enemy perspective can be found here: Mavs Moneyball.
Key injuries: Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard for the Spurs; Rodrigue Beaubois for the Mavs.
Prediction: We should win this thing unless Pop realizes he's going to coach the All Star game and he decides to let the Clippers pass us (I don't see this happening).
After a relatively close first half, we make a run in the third quarter. Bench play keeps it even in the fourth. Manu has 17pts, 6reb, 8ast (just because he's on my fantasy team).
Spurs by 14.
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.