Tony Parker and John Wall will be the featured matchup for tonight's game when the San Antonio Spurs (37-11) host the Washington Wizards (11-34) tonight.
The Spurs and Parker have been rolling as of late, especially during the absence of power forward Tim Duncan who's been kept out with a sore knee. Parker's play has also earned him Player of the Month from the NBA for January, an accomplishment well deserved for the San Antonio floor leader. The Wizards have been an opposite story of the Spurs for most of the year. They've played hard, but not enough to win games. John Wall was out with injury for most of the season and now that Washington has him back, they've been sharper than ever this year. His leadership and skills on the floor transforms the Wizards from a really bad to a good team, despite their current record. This is the second meeting of the season between the two teams but the first time the Spurs will see Wall on the court.
What Parker must do on offense:
Parker's quickness is an important factor for the 30 year old point guard. With him using pick and rolls to try to get free, he will force Wall to try to recover or leave him to his bigs for help. The Washington big men are skilled, but not known for being help defenses. Emeka Okafor and Nene Hilario are good defenders in the paint, but in the pick and roll are considered a liability. Nene isn't a player who prefers to go out on the pick and roll and for good reason. He's not good at recovering to the paint, especially if his man is a roller to the basket. If Tim Duncan returns to the lineup, that'll leave a huge decision in the hands of the Wizards on who will guard Duncan and who will try to guard Tiago Splitter, who'll likely look to pick and roll with Parker every other possession. In their only game last season, Parker shot 88% (7-8) from the restricted area and 57% (4-7) from mid range while chipping in 50% (1-2) from the corner 3, a shot he's looking to keep improving on this season.
What Parker must do on defense:
Wall isn't known much for being the fastest point guard, especially with lingering knee problems throughout his career. Parker's quick feet and defense will play a huge factor in this game as it did last season when the teams met. Wall shot a disappointing 0% (0-5) from the paint area against San Antonio. He did shoot 63% (5-8) from mid range, but those are the shots San Antonio wants to give him. The Spurs will look for similar results today with giving Wall longer shots away from the rim and collapsing on him against the easier onesn.