The matchup for tonight's game when the San Antonio Spurs visit the Cleveland Cavaliers before the All-Star break will be between Tony Parker and Kyrie Irving.
The last time these two players faced off against each other was last season during a lockout shortened season. The Spurs took care of the Cavaliers easily in a 125-90 victory. The game saw Parker only play 23 minutes while chipping in 19 points on 9-12 shooting. Irving had 13 points but only shot 5-15 in 30 minutes. Parker may not see many minutes tonight as Gregg Popovich will likely rest his stars if the game gets out of hand, but look for Parker to try to attack early and earn an even shorter night than his coach intends.
What Parker must do on offense:
The Cavaliers are 26th (101.4ppg) in points allowed in the league and Anderson Varejao's injury hasn't helped much either. Triston Thompson has been a staple alongside Irving this season, but look for Parker to exploit Cleveland missing their big man with pick and rolls with Tiago Splitter and possibly DeJuan Blair. Cleveland is still a young team and Parker's veteran savvy will play a huge role with his drive and kick outs.
What Parker must do on defense:
Although the Cavaliers are a disappointment this season, irving is having an incredible year individually. He's shooting 51% in the painted area while shooting 46% from mid range, a spot he's taken more shots than any other place on the court. He's shooting 43% from the wing and 39% from the corner three point area, so he's a very good overall shooter and driver. Parker must keep in front of Irving one on one and during pick and rolls. Irving might score the majority of the points himself, but that might be in the best interest of Parker and the Spurs and shut everyone else down for the entire game. Kyrie Irving will have to play hard on both sides of the floor and as long as Parker stays in front of Irving and gives him the hardest possible shots, Parker will give the Spurs a great chance to come out on top.