This we still have a buzz from the Lakers win 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 opponents — features tonight’s opponent the red hot San Antonio Spurs.
Tonight’s game should be a highly entertaining contest between to two well coached and similar teams that are simply playing great basketball right now. The Spurs have won 5 straight and are in first place in the Soutwest Division. The Sixers have tasted victory 6 of their last 7 and are perched in first place in the Atlantic. The 7-6 are one of the top defensive teams in the League – 86.64 ppg. for foes (2nd) and 42% on FGAs for opponents (5th). The Spurs are not shabby on D either as they give up 93.5 ppg. (12th) for the season, but they have cut that number to 85 ppg. during their recent five-game winning streak. The 76ers are tops in the League in point differential at 10.04 per game, while the Spurs are ranked 9th at 4.19. Finally, the Sixers feature six players who are averaging double figures in scoring and a total of eight who are good for 9 points or more a night. San Anton’ typically puts four players a night in double figures and a total of six average better the 9 points a run.
One last interesting number…The Spurs have lost four straight and nine of 11 in Philadelphia.
That’s enough of the stat crunching. Let’s look at the Xs & Os of this game. Tonight we’re looking at one match-up in particular as the key to this game — Jrue Holiday vs. Tony Parker. Parker has been absolutely tremendous during the SAS five game winning streak – 22 ppg., 7.8 apg. and only 2.2 turnovers per night. Of course included in this stretch of All-Star caliber play by Tony was the 42 point and 9 assist outing against the OKC Thunder. Holiday has too stay in front of Parker and keep the former Mr. Eva Longoria in check tonight. Holiday is certainly capable of accomplishing this task as he’s been a standout defender all season. Honestly, it’s hard to remember a PG who moves his feet on defense as well as Jrue does every night. That will come in especially handy tonight as he attempts to prevent Parker from driving the lane on the Sixers.
Yes the Sixers will have trouble down low with Tim Duncan, DeJuan Blair, Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter. That’s especially true since Hawes will most likely miss yet another game. However, the Sixers showed against the LAL on Monday that they can survive their worst nightmare outing on the interior and still grab a W. But, they can’t get a win tonight if they get pounded in the paint and Parker has a great run as well. So for us, the Holiday vs. Parker battle is the key to this game.
No pressure Jrue, we’re just saying.
For a little more insight into the Spurs team the Sixers face tonight, we turn to our man Andrew McNeill from 48minutesofhell.com to answer four questions on the Spurs from us here at Philadunkia.
Philadunkia: The Spurs have now won five in a row. What have been a few of the keys to the recent hot streak?
Andrew McNeill @ 48minutesofhell.com: The defense has definitely been improved for the Spurs over the last 10 games or so. It could be because of scheduling match-ups or genuine improvement, we’re not totally sure yet. But it’s been nice to see.
Philadunkia: However, previous to the winning streak the Spurs were 12-9, had lost 4 of their last 6 and dropped one to the lowly Kings. What were the issues then and have they been solved for good?
Andrew McNeill @ 48minutesofhell.com: The Spurs interior defense is definitely a concern and I think it was a problem earlier in the season. It could become a serious problem with the personnel involved.
Philadunkia: What is you biggest concern about this Spurs team?
Andrew McNeill @ 48minutesofhell.com: The biggest concern with these Spurs is always injury. It’s hit Manu Ginobili already, but it looks to be early enough in the season that it hasn’t bit them. It could, however, happen again.
Philadunkia: Former LaSalle (then Towson) star Gary Neal had a tremendous year in 2010-11. However his numbers have dipped slightly across the board this season. Give us some insight as to what (if anything) may be going on with Neal?
Andrew McNeill @ 48minutesofhell.com: Gary Neal’s facing two problems right now. The first is he’s trying to get back to himself from having an appendix removed during training camp. Coach Pop said last week that Neal was “not even close” to be 100% back in terms of conditioning and rhythm. The other problem he’s facing is he’s spending a lot of time a the point guard, where he’s not that good, because of injury to TJ Ford. Once he gets past both of those, he’ll be back to his old self.