This edition of “Fo’ with the Foes” – Philadunkia’s advanced scouting series which with the help of an accomplished journalist from around the NBA beat or blog world, previews key upcoming 76ers games – features tonight’s opponent, Brett Brown’s former team, the San Antonio Spurs.
After the jump, I’ll look a Fo’ key items for tonight’s game. Additionally, we’ll get a little more insight into the Spurs team the Sixers face tonight from our colleague Michael DeLeon at projectspurs.com as Michael will answer Fo’ questions on his Spurs from us here at Philadunkia.
Here are Fo’ key items I will be watching for tonight from the Sixers end…
1) Brett Brown & the Spurs: It will be an emotional night for Brett Brown as he faces his former boss and the franchise he worked within for 11 years. Brown and Pop still talk “3-4 times” a week. So, I’ll be interested to see how Brown handles it and if the Sixers players give a little something extra tonight in order to get Brown the W.
2) The Spurs D vs. Sixers Offense: The Spurs defense is one of the best in the Association (92.4 ppg.) and the Sixers up-temp offense has turned the scoreboard into a pinball machine (106 ppg. / 4th in League). If the Sixers are successful in pushing the pace of this game and stay out of a half-court battle, they could run the aging Spurs, who played yesterday in New York, right out of the gym.
3) Thad Young: After a rocky start to the season, Thad seems to have found his game and role in Brett Brown’s offense. He posted 16 & 8 vs. the Cavs on Friday night and Young equaled his season high with 29 points (11-18 FG, 2-3 3Pt, 5-6 FT) on Saturday night. With Turner, MCW and Hawes playing out of their minds, if Young can continue to keep his offensive game rolling tonight the Sixers could steal this one.
4) Duncan & Parker: The Hall of Fame power forward (not center) and the all-world guard have a tendency to kill the Sixers. Duncan averaged 20.0 points and 12.5 rebounds and Parker was good for 20 points and 6 dimes as San Antonio swept the two meetings with our 7-6 last season. I don’t think the Sixers can provide any resistance to Duncan, but I am hoping that Brown’s close-up knowledge of the Spurs’ offense can help slow down Parker just enough to keep him out of the 25 & 10 range. If Brown can’t find a wrinkle or a gimmick to help MCW somewhat contain Parker, well, it will be a long night for the rookie and another L for the Sixers.
Q&A with Michael DeLeon at projectspurs.com…
Philadunkia: Obviously the talk here in Philadelphia for tonight’s game revolves around Brett Brown vs. his old team. Is anyone in San Antonio talking about that story line?
Michael DeLeon at projectspurs.com: Everyone is talking about that. Brett Brown was in San Antonio for a long while, and the players loved having him around, in fact, several of them commented on not having him and Mike Budenholzer around during training camp. He also coached Patty Mills and Aron Baynes on the Australian National Team so there’s that aspect as well. I’ve kept my eye on the 76ers because of Brown, so I’m sure it’ll be a nice reunion for Pop and the players.
Philadunkia: The Spurs are off to a great start and routed the Knicks on Sunday to run their record to 6-1. But I have to ask, have you seen anything that concerns you about this team?
Michael DeLeon at projectspurs.com: They are off to a fast start, yes, but they aren’t quite a cohesive unit just yet. They brought in Marco Belinelli and Jeff Ayres, who are two important rotation players, and getting them acclimated and integrated into the Spurs’ system and learning the offensive and defensive schemes is not going to be a seamless transition. They are taking the places of players that had the corporate knowledge Pop talks about. Most players that have come to the Spurs say it usually takes a year, but already their additions have proven beneficial. Aside from those changes, Mills has now taken over as backup point guard, and as touched on earlier, Pop has two new assistants. It’s too early to really pick apart the team. As Paul Garcia wrote about recently, everything is still a work in progress this early, but the Spurs’ ability to bring new pieces into the fold on the court and on the sidelines will be important.
Philadunkia: Pop “benched” small forward Kawhi Leonard and starting center Tiago Splitter vs. the NYK. What were your thoughts on the move and what first-five do you think the Spurs will run out tonight vs. the Sixers?
Michael DeLeon at projectspurs.com: It’s a classic Pop move, especially on a back-to-back. He’ll probably trot out the normal starting five of Parker, Green, Leonard, Duncan and Splitter tonight against the 76ers. He may limit Duncan and Parker’s minutes a bit, but I don’t expect any major changes.
Philadunkia: The Sixers “Big Three” (Turner, Young & Hawes) are apparently on the trading block already. Do you see the Spurs having any interest in one or more of those players?
Michael DeLeon at projectspurs.com: I like all three players, and I even wrote/begged that the Spurs sign Hawes a few years ago. In reality though, the Spurs don’t have enough of value that they’d be willing to trade that would net them Turner or Young, and I think is happy with the job his bigs are doing right now. Boris Diaw has looked very aggressive, Splitter is earning that contract, and Baynes and Ayres bring so much energy off the bench. It’s a nice group to fit around Duncan, and while i think Hawes could fit well, I just don’t see it happening. We’ll take Michael Carter-Williams for Nando De Colo though.
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