Game Preview . . . and some Stuff

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Published: March 12, 2008

After the outpouring of joy over my American Idol post yesterday, I'll now return you to our ordinary programming.  But be warned, I have more geeky comparisons to make, and in the future, I will make them.  Oh yes, I will.

Perhaps my favorite statistical site, The Wages of Wins Journal penned(er . . typed) by Dave Berri, evaluates Chris Andersen and the Hornets current backup centers and comes to much the same conclusion I did when I evaluated them.  His post also links to all his other posts about the Hornets.  It's a great series of reads.

Oh – and in honor of the American Idol Beatles night last night, I do have one link to give you all.  The Beatles have a truly disturbing song called "Maxwell's Silver Hammer".  Here's a fun video animation of that song.  Be warned – the video is violent and not really safe for work if someone can walk by and see your screen.

Game Preview!
Matchup: Spurs(44-19) @ Hornets(42-20)
Off Efficiency: Spurs 105.1(12th), Hornets 108.2(9th)
Def Efficiency: Spurs 99.5(3rd), Hornets 102.6(8th)
Spur Blogger: Pounding the Rock

The Spurs come in at a tidy 8-2 over their last 10,  having avenged two road losses to Phoenix and Denver by beating up the Nuggets at home.  Oddly, the Spurs continue to put on mediocre displays on the road, sporting a 17-14 record away from San Antonio.  That can help us, but the Spurs coach Greg Popovich has started his March motivational push, trying to set a fire under this team for the stretch run by calling them out after the two losses to the press.  We'll see how they respond, they only took the Nuggets by 4 on Monday.

The Hornets have only gone 5-5 over their last ten.  They are starting to slip as the schedule tightens, and will need to get rolling again.  We need to take two out of every three games if we want to hold on to our position in this tough Western Conference race.

The Spurs and Hornets are both supposed to be at full health for tonight's game.  No excuses, it's time to throw down.

Positional Analysis
PG:
Tony Parker v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
Last year Tony Parker was celebrated for his remarkable ability to score in the paint, and his improved shooting touch as he posted a 52% FG rate with 39% from downtown.  This year, that's looking more and more like a fluke, as he's fallen back down to his career levels, hitting 48% overall and 30% from deep.  Even his FT% has fallen off by 6%.  Last year, he was right there with Paul.  This year his decline coupled with Paul's new level of play makes it not even a contest anymore.  Parker will still produce a few nice plays in the open court and get into the paint here and there, but he's clearly the third banana on his team this season.

SG: Manu Ginobili v Morris Peterson
Advantage: Spurs
I know this is sacrilege against the almighty Timmy, but this season I consider Manu Ginobili the MVP of the Spurs.  Manu's explosive scoring, great shooting, and crafty, flopping assaults on the basket are relentless.  Popovich has recognized this and has ended the Michael-Finley-as-Starter lineup, keeping his primary scoring on the floor longer over the last few weeks.  In the last game against the Hornets, Ginobili killed us.  Our defense has to be a team effort against him.  And Morris HAS to hit a few shots to keep him working defensively as well.

SF: Bruce Bowen v Peja Stojakovic
Advantage: Hornets
Stojakovic can be bothered by a physical defender.  However, while Bruce used to be able to harass everyone he came across, he's slowed down and Stojakovic has shown he can hold his own against him(unlike Battier), even if he has to work a little harder for his shots.  Bowen is still deadly with the corner three, but the rest of his offensive game has completely vanished.  Peja should rule here.

PF: Tim Duncan v The Fluffy Fundamental
Advantage: Spurs
Tim Duncan's skills in the post have earned him the nickname 'Big Fundamental'.  David West is also a very sound fundamental player.  Despite West's big numbers last game against the Spurs, a Big Fundamental still trumps a Smaller Fundamental.

C: Kurt Thomas v Tyson Chandler
Advantage: Hornets
The Spurs acquired Kurt Thomas near the deadline this year, and immediately inserted him into the starting lineup.  Kurt plays a similar game to what PJ Brown produced in his last season for the Hornets – providing solid defense, rebounding, picks, screens, and a decent 14-18 foot jumper.  Expect him to knock a few of those down as Tyson tries to stay in the paint defensively.  He also likes to undercut and bump people, so Tyson needs to keep his cool against him.  If Tyson keeps his head together, he should dominate him.

Bench
Advantage:
Even
Pargo is on one of his cold streaks, which hurts badly.  Bonzi is just coming back from injury and will be limited.  Armstrong and Ely are ineffective and I don't know if Byron is willing to roll out Andersen yet to see what he can do.  All that would add up to a questionable bench if not for Bowen and Wright.  The Energy Twins will do all they can to keep this team in it, and I hope Julian continues his solid offensive and defensive efforts. 

The Spurs can throw out their own savvy energy guys in Ime Udoka and Fabricio Oberto. Both players are limited, but both Udoka and Oberto will get after the ball, set hard picks and float to the open spot to take, and sometimes hit, jumpers.  Shooters Matt Bonner, Michael Finley, and an ineffective Damon Stoudamire round out this group.

Looks like it will be the battle of the energy forwards on the second unit.  Let's hope Pargo can snap out of his funk and be the difference maker again.

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