The San Antonio Spurs (59-19) return to action tonight after a win over the Atlanta Hawks yesterday. The Spurs will face the Sacramento Kings (23-54) at the AT&T Center as the Kings also won last night in Houston.
The Spurs lead the series against the Kings at 2-0. The two teams first met in February as Tony Parker (25 points) led the Spurs to a 113-100 victory. Tyreke Evans led the Kings with 25 points in that meeting.
The second meeting took place in March where Parker (27 points) led the Spurs to a 108-103 victory. The Kings were led by forward Omri Casspi (16 points) and Jermaine Taylor (16 points).
What the Spurs Do Well?
Scoring: The Spurs are sixth in the Association in scoring at 103.6 points per game. The fast-paced spread offense is a monster when rolling on all cylinders. The key to the Spurs balanced offense is the bench. In the win last night against the Hawks, the team only scored 97 points. The “Big 3” produced the majority of the scoring and George Hill was the only bench player (13 points) to contribute efficiently.
Pass: The Spurs are seventh in the league in assists with 22.5. Ball movement is the key to the Spurs offensive system. Open shots will be available if the silver and black pass at least three times in a possession (You’ll find out why it’s easy to pass and score against the Kings as you keep reading.)
What the Kings Do Well?
Rebound: The Kings are the fourth best rebounding team with 43.7 boards per game. A frontline of Samuel Dalembert, DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson attribute to these numbers.
Where the Spurs Need Some Improvement?
Defense: The Spurs are ranked fourteenth in the NBA in points allowed per game at 97.9. Even though the Spurs are on a two game winning streak, they are still having trouble playing consistent defense quarter by quarter. You’ll usually see a quarter-by-quarter breakdown that display’s something like this: 1Q: 31, 2Q: 25, 3Q: 21, 4Q: 28.
Rebounding: The Spurs grab 41.8 rebounds per game, which ranks them at thirteenth in the league. This issue is evident due to the Spurs not having one post player that is taller than seven feet. They have two 6’11 players on the roster, one from the Virgin Islands, and the other from Brazil. But one of those players didn’t see any playing time in Atlanta, he might see some playing time tonight at home. Can you guess which player it was?
Where the Kings Need Some Improvement?
Scoring: They score 99.1 points per game and rank eighteenth in the league.
Passing: The Kings are twenty-third in the league at passing with just 20.4 assists per game. Even though Tyreke Evans averages 5.6 assists per game, he’s mainly a scoring point guard at 17.9 points per game.
Defense: The Kings allow opponents to score 104.3 points per game, which ranks them at twenty-third in the league. This will be an issue for them in stopping the Spurs offense from getting their usual numbers. As stated earlier, if the Spurs move the ball open shots and easy buckets will present themselves.
Who Should Play Well for the Spurs?
Guards: Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and George Hill should all play well for the Spurs as they have shown by their production in the first two meetings. With Hill’s new level of accepting the sixth man role more aggressively, another 15-20 point game could be reachable for him.
Who Should Play Well for the Kings?
Guards: Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, and Beno Udrih should be able to score but on very many shot attempts. With the guards carrying much of the offensive load it will benefit the Spurs as players like Fransisco Garcia, Samuel Dalembert, and Marcus Cousins will be limited in touches.
Even though the Kings are on a two game winning streak and they’ve gone 7-3 in their last 10 games, I’m going to go with the Spurs. The Spurs showed some defensive improvement in Atlanta by holding the Hawks to 19 points in the third quarter. You must also keep in mind that the Spurs beat the Hawks without taking many three pointers (1-8 3PT). You also can’t forget the fact that the Spurs have only lost five games all season at home. The Spurs will get their third victory in a row with a score of 107 to 98. This will make them one win away from claiming the top seed in the Western Conference.