The Cavaliers have a 19-56 record, and the Knicks are the only team in the Eastern Conference with a worse record than them. But the Spurs lost to those same Knicks on February 24th, and they have had trouble putting away bad teams this year. The Cavs have been playing better lately, with rookie guard Collin Sexton coming into his own late in the season, and Jordan Clarkson playing well for them. This is the first meeting of two between these teams, with them meeting again in Cleveland on April 7.
The Spurs have had issues with containing opposing guards, as Kemba Walker went off late in the game to keep the game close in the fourth quarter, and taking over in overtime as they pulled away to a big win. The Spurs have had issues with ineffective and predictable offense in the final minutes, and they are going to need to improve over just giving the ball to DeMar DeRozan and letting him go one-on-one for the final possession, hoisting up a low-percentage midrange shot at the buzzer.
But all of that is just a distraction from the main event, which honors one of the greatest players to ever wear the Silver and Black, the man who did the impossible, he broke Pop, among other things.
Tim Duncan on the great Manu Ginobili: "Seeing the opposite happen instead of Pop changing people and breaking people of habits and conforming them to what the Spurs did -- Manu went the opposite direction. He broke the system."— Quixem Ramirez (@quixem) March 27, 2019
San Antonio Spurs (43-32) vs Cleveland Cavaliers (19-56)
March 28, 2019 | 7:30 PM CT
Watch: FSSW| Listen: WOAI
Spurs Injuries: Dejounte Murray (ACL — out)
Cavaliers Injuries: Matthew Dellavadova (Concussion — DTD), John Henson (Wrist, OUT)
Emotions are high, but there’s a game to play
After Tuesday’s disappointing loss, you might think the team would be focused on the Cavs, but it’s hard to tell if the presence of Manu will be a distraction or a boon to the good guys. I think that Manu’s competitive nature will be an inspiration for the younger players, who have been missing his leadership and competitiveness.
Expect another big night from LaMarcus Aldridge
The Cavs still have Kevin Love, but I expect that LaMarcus will beat him up the court on offense and Derrick White will dump the ball into the paint, where Aldridge should be able to dominate. Jakob Poeltl should keep Tristan Thompson busy enough for LaMarcus to have a lot of success against Love.
DeMar DeRozan strikes back
DeMar had a really good game against the Hornets, but everyone is going to remember the shot he missed at the end of regulation to let the game go to overtime. In my opinion, it was more of a failure of the scheme than it was of DeRozan. If Manu was on the team, you would just give him the ball and let him create with the game on the line, but DeMar isn’t Manu, and Pop shouldn’t use him the same way. But every time that DeMar has made a bad play, he always comes back with a great effort, so I’m expecting a big night from him tonight, and I’m also expecting Derrick White to bounce back from his sub-par offensive game against the Hornets with a big scoring night.
Time for the bench to step up
Patty Mills had a rough night shooting in Charlotte, and he should be ready to knock down some shots tonight. Marco Belinelli, who has a little of Manu’s talent for unconventional shot-making should have a great night tonight.
The Golden Generation Argentinians will be there to honor Manu
With some help from some of his Golden Generation teammates, Manu Ginobili's greatness as an Olympian will also be celebrated Thursday night. https://t.co/rS1z2j2SGm— Tom Orsborn (@tom_orsborn) March 27, 2019
Vegas Line: Spurs by 12
Prediction: Spurs by 17
For the visitor’s perspective, please visit Fear the Sword.
Tony, who flew back with the team from Charlotte, must 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.