A dominant first quarter from LaMarcus Aldridge was all it took for the Spurs to regain the form they flashed during their 9 game win streak Sunday night when they dominated the Boston Celtics from the opening tip. 1-1 on a quick 3-game swing, the Spurs will now be welcomed into the city of Charlotte with hopes of having the same results. The Hornets, currently in 10th out East and within 2 games of the 8th seed, managed to beat the Spurs back in January 108-93 during a game that is best remembered as the return of 4x champion Tony Parker, who made his return to the Alamo City after signing with Charlotte over the summer.
The Spurs are coming off a game where they held the Celtics to under 100 points, which they did by limiting All Star guard Kyrie Irving to just 11 points on 5-17 shooting. They’ll need to bring the same effort tonight when they go up against Kemba Walker, another crafty guard who lit the Spurs’ defense up back in January to the tune of 33 points on 7-13 shooting from 3 and 13-27 overall.
Charlotte is coming off a game where they beat the Toronto Raptors on a crazy half-court heave at the buzzer by Jeremy Lamb, leaving much of NBA Twitter shook for an hour or two:
San Antonio Spurs (43-31) @ Charlotte Hornets (34-39)
March 26, 2019 | 6:00 PM CT
Watch: FSSW| Listen: WOAI
Spurs Injuries: Dejounte Murray (ACL — out)
Hornets Injuries: Tony Parker (personal — day to day), Nic Batum (illness — day to day), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (concussion — questionable), Cody Zeller (knee — questionable)
Scoring Guards Three: Kemba Walker
While Kemba Walker has upped his scoring this season, everything else has been at or below his career averages. He’s a score-first point guard that puts pressure on any defense that he is playing, and while he isn’t as crafty with the ball as Kyrie Irving or shoots as high of a percentage as him, there are some similarities to their game. Watch how the Hornets use stagger screens multiple times on one possession to get Kemba an open pull-up 3 pointer:
There is zero hesitation in that shot, complete confidence is all over his face as he pulls up for that jumper with no thoughts of it possibly missing. Walker will be the third straight guard that the Spurs face (James Harden and Irving being the other two) that has that scorer’s mentality. If the Spurs do half as good a job on Walker as they did on Irving, they’ll be in a good position to win this game convincingly.
DeRozan, who is not known for his work on the defensive end, stays active, moving his feet and showing hands. Even though Irving gets open for the shot, DeRozan made him work and take a step back jumper and even though he’s very capable of making those sort of shots, it’s much better than seeing him get an uncontested 3-pointer or pull-up jumper.
Those same rules have to apply to Walker tonight for the Spurs to walk out of Charlotte with a win.
Expect another big night from LaMarcus Aldridge
In the Spurs’ win over the Celtics, Aldridge was designated as their workforce from the get-go. Aldridge went 9/15 in the first quarter alone and finished that game with 48 points, getting the work done with a variety of his usual diet of post-ups, pick and pop, and rollman:
Have a night, @aldridge_12!— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) March 25, 2019
48 PTS (most points ever scored in a road game) ✅
Tied career-high 20 made field goals ✅
Seventh career 40+point game ✅ pic.twitter.com/eCHfZc5cQB
With Al Horford sitting out with knee soreness, Boston deployed a combination of big men to try and slow Aldridge throughout the night, including former Spur Aron Baynes (an inch shorter of Aldridge and not the most mobile guy), Daniel Theis (just 6’8” and is giving up nearly 20 pounds to Aldridge), and Marcus Morris (ditto). Charlotte’s deploying a line of Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky, and Bismack Biyombo as their top 3 centers.
Not exactly your world class defenders at that position, right?
If the over/under on LMA’s scoring for the game was 25, I’d take the over.
Tony Parker Update
Tony Parker has had an OK year for the most part. He’s averaging about 18 minutes a game and scoring 10 points (on 46/26/74 splits), about 2 rebounds and 3 assists per game as the second point guard off the bench backing up Walker. While I’ll admit it’s never going to look right seeing him in anything but the Silver and Black, it’s good to see that he’s still capable of carving up the Phoenix Suns on a good night.
Parker had 8 points and 4 assists in his return to San Antonio back in January, with many crucial ones coming in the 2nd half when the Spurs were unable to get over the hump.
Vegas Line: Spurs by 3
Prediction: Spurs by 10
For the visitor’s perspective, please visit At the Hive.
For once, Tony must NOT dominate Fisher.
PtR’s Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.