San Antonio Spurs vs Washington WizardsAT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
November 13, 2013, 7:30 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI
After a victorious two-game road trip on the east coast, the Spurs return to the AT&T Center to take on the Wizards on Wednesday night. It's a FOGASINI for the 7-1 Spurs, who have won five straight and have one more game against Utah on Friday before they can take the next four days off.
It has been a mixed bag so far this year for the Washington Wizards, who could've been in our good graces had they closed out their Sunday game in Oklahoma City with a win. Instead they gave up a 10-point lead late in the game and fell in overtime to Thunder. That was the first part of a three-game swing for Washington which included a Tuesday night loss in Dallas and concludes in San Antonio. A bit of fatigue can be expected on their end.
The early-season schedule really hasn't been kind to Washington. Beyond this difficult road stretch out west, the Wizards have already had to face off against Miami, Philly (twice) and Brooklyn, all while playing just two games at home. Either way, don't let the 2-5 record fool you: this is a much better team than the one that went 29-53 last season.
Another reason for Washington's poor start is their 29th-ranked defense, which has allowed 106.8 points a game thus far. A John Wall-led team will obviously look to push the pace, but the Wizards have failed to get back and defend on the other end.
San Antonio will look to slow down the ultra-quick Wall, who likes to get the ball up the floor and create off the dribble. Wall's averaging 18 points and 9.5 assists this season, but only shooting at a clip of 38.7% from the field. Even on nights when he's cold, Wall has a way of leaving his fingerprints on a game. but turning him into a jump-shooter should be an early priority for Pop.
The Spurs D will also need to account for Wall's backcourt teammate Bradley Beal, who is absolutely breaking out in his second year in the league. Beal's averaging a team-high 21 points per game, while shooting a ridiculous 47.6% from three (on 7 attempts per game!). Fortunately he's also shooting 38% inside the three-point line so far, which should give San Antonio defenders all the more reason to close out on him. Expect an early sub by Pop for Danny or Kawhi, if either guy gives up an open look.
It's not just Beal who can be expected to let loose from distance; he, Wall and small forward Trevor Ariza have averaged a combined 18 attempts per game so far this year. That'll mean lots of long rebounds, and some opportunities for Kawhi and Tony to push the ball with their controlled fast breaks.
Tim Duncan should be back after resting Monday night's SEGABABA against Philly, and San Antonio will need him to hold down the paint against Nene and newly acquired Marcin Gortat. The two big men are good on the low block and can score in multiple ways.
Offensively you know what kind of hand the Spurs will play: plenty of motion, Tony Parker pick-and-rolls, Timmy on the elbow, and a few jokers in Manu, Boris and Marco. Danny Green's hot shooting should help space the floor and, if the Wiz decide to have defensive specialist Ariza chase him around the baseline, that could allow Kawhi to use his height advantage against the shorter - but sturdy - Beal.
Both teams boast formidable starting fives, but where San Antonio should do plenty of damage is when the Wizards starters are sitting. This isn't a deep team: Trevor Booker is a scrappy power forward who occasionally scores using his strength and hustle, and forwards Al Harrington and Martell Webster are happy to settle for outside shots. Don't expect significant minutes for anyone else, as coach Randy Whitman knows very well who his studs are.
If our guys look a little different to you Wednesday night, that's because they'll be rocking camo-themed Solid Snake uniforms for the first time this year, in commemoration of USAA Salute Night. Hopefully the new look will be christened with a W.
Matchup to watch: The battle down low will be interesting, with Timmy and Tiago facing off against Nene and Gortat, but it's hard to pass on Parker against Wall. Two of the league's best point guards will constantly test their opponents' team defenses, as containing either one is always more than a one-man job.
Wizards perspective can be found at: Bullets Forever
Game Prediction: Spurs by 10
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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