The matchup of the game in the last game of the season for the San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves will be between Manu Ginobili and Ricky Rubio.
This will be Ginobili's return game from a hamstring injury that's plagued him these past few weeks. He'll likely come off the bench to continue his role as the Spurs' sixth man, but he should see a good amount of minutes to get him conditioned for the first round of the playoffs. He'll be matched up against Ricky Rubio, who's the starting combo guard for the Wolves. Both men have a similar game of pick and roll attacks coupled with flashy Top 10 worthy passes. Don't expect anything less from Rubio and Ginobili, who'll be looking to get into rhythm with the playoffs approaching.
What Ginobili must do on offense:
While Manu Ginobili is likely to not be anywhere near playing condition, he'll have to get used to playing alongside big men such as Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter and others. Duncan setting Ginobili up with screens for a pick and roll or pop will give Manu some looks on the court. Ginobili is shooting just 34% (55-164) from above the arc and this is an area to his game he needs to improve. With Kawhi Leonard becoming comfortable at the corner 3-point line, Ginobili getting comfortable and making his wing 3-point shots will be crucial down the stretch for the playoffs and this game will be a good time for him to tune up his rhythm.
What Ginobili must do on defense:
The majority of Rubio's shots come from mid range or from driving to the basket. In his last game against the Spurs, he looked unstoppable. The team needs to go with the same mentality of having him trying to beat the Spurs by himself. He's only shooting 15% (5-34) from beyond the arc, 15% (5-34) from the 3-point line, and and 14% (3-22) from the paint that's not the restricted area. Ginobili has to remember his hot spots and push him to his colder spots on the floor. If Rubio is force to beat the Spurs by shooting the ball, there won't be time or situations where he'll be passing the ball to open teammates, his strength on the basketball court. If the Spurs force him to shoot, this will also keep the Wolves' best shooters cold throughout the night.
The matchup of the game between the San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves will be between starting shooting guards Danny Green and Ricky Rubio.
In two games, Green has shot 60% (3-5) from the corner 3-point shot and 60% (3-5) from the wing 3-point shot against the Timberwolves with Rubio on the court. Green has made that shot his specialty this season as he's shooting 44% overall for the season from beyond the arc. This shooting opens up the floor for the other Spurs and big men to create on the inside and will play a major role tonight. With Green on the court, Ricky Rubio has been the opposite of his counterpart. Rubio has only shot 9% (1-11) with Green on the court, which may play a factor again today since Green is a taller quick footed defender against the flashy pass first combo guard.
What Green must do on offense:
With Green being two inches taller than Rubio, he should have no trouble getting a shot up when elevated against the small guard. If the Wolves decide to play a man on man strategy, that may not give Green much room to catch the ball and shoot cleanly, so he'll have to keep in motion and look to get open. Danny Green will also have the luxury of cutting to the rim with his teammates being 3-point shooters and that'll be a hard situation for Rubio since he has to depend on help defense in the paint. Green should have no problem offensively this game from his counterpart.
What Green must do on defense:
He has to make Rubio shoot and keep close to him on drives. With his height advantage, Rubio won't have easy layups or passes around his defender. Rubio is shooting 46% from the restricted area, but after that the drop-off is a major one. He's only shooting 17% (7-40) from 3-point land and 34% (37-109) from mid range. The surprising statistic on his shooting may be 14% (3-22) in the painted area that's not restricted under the basket. Green's size and the San Antonio defensive help of Tiago Splitter should make that more difficult for Rubio. If Rubio is forced to shoot and win the game for the Minnesota Timberwolves from mid-range and beyond, San Antonio and Danny Green will definitely have the advantage this game.
Tony Parker and Luke Ridnour will be the key matchup when the San Antonio Spurs face off against the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight.
Both teams are coming into this game with disappointing losses. The Spurs lost in overtime against the Memphis Grizzlies with Parker chip in 30 points while the Wolves lost against the New Orleans Hornets with Ridnour scoring 20 points.
This is the first of four meetings this season between the teams, so it will be interesting how both teams play against each other and their new look teams.
The Timberwolves are still slowly letting Ricky Rubio adjust to playing since his knee injury, so look for Ridnour to shoulder the responsibility of the scoring.
What Parker must do on offense:
He has to attack Minnesota on the pick and roll and try to get into the paint as much as he can. The team is also missing Kevin Love since he re-fractured his hand. The Wolves' depth is thin in the frontcourt and getting the team in foul trouble will be key with Parker being aggressive. Parker must also look for his teammates when they're open and pass it as soon as possible. The Timberwolves are built to be athletic and are long defensively. They may be small in the frontcourt, but they are quick in the backcourt and can recover quickly to shooters. He must also take open mid range jumpers if he has them. That will make the Wolves rotate and force to cover Parker close in the perimeter, even if he can out quick them to the rim.
What Parker must do on defense:
He must force Ridnour out to the 3 point line and away from the paint. Ridnour is shooting 31% from the three point line and if Parker can lower his confidence by missing the long ball, it may effect the rest of his game. With Tim Duncan or Tiago Splitter in, he also has to make him go baseline for a quick trap. That's the hardest place to get a pass off since he can only see a small half of the court. Parker's quick feet will also play a part in fatiguing Luke Ridnour for the majority of the game, especially with Ridnour playing most of the game at point guard with Ricky Rubio still not healthy enough to play extended minutes.