SAN ANTONIO SPURS (47-29) vs. SACRAMENTO KINGS (24-53)
|SPURS||Tim Duncan 18.1||Tim Duncan 10.2||Manu Ginobili 4.9|
|KINGS||Tyreke Evans 20.0||Jason Thompson 8.3||Tyreke Evans 5.8|
The San Antonio Spurs clinched their 13th consecutive playoff berth with a 100-81 victory over the NBA defending champions Los Angeles Lakers but lost George Hill to an ankle injury in the second quarter.
Hill is averaging 15.8 points in 41 games as a starter. He moved to the starting point guard role when Parker broke his right ring finger in early March and has done a remarkable job. Hill is expected miss at least two games leaving the Spurs without either of their point guards when they play the Sacramento Kings tonight in Sacramento.
Coach Gregg Popovich said "I'm a little worried about everything that's coming up now without George, it's going to be difficult to have Manu play the point in all these games coming up. We'll have to figure something out."
This is a tough time for the Spurs to be short-handed. They are currently in seventh place in the West and are tying their best to move up to standings and gain higher seed when the post season rolls around. And not to mention avoiding the Lakers in the opening round.
The Spurs are playing very well lately and have won three straight games beating the Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic and the Los Angeles Lakers. However, they must keep their focus and give their opponents the respect they deserve.
Let's not forget, last week the Spurs lost to the New Jersey Nets after beating the Cleveland Cavaliers and routing the Boston Celtics. If the Spurs want to win this one, they have to take the Kings seriously to avoid another embarrassing loss on the road.
The Kings will enter the game on a seven-game losing streak and have nothing to loose. They will try to get the upset win over the Spurs especially with rookie Tyreke Evans back in the lineup.
Also, during the NBA trade deadline, the Kings traded Kevin Martin to the Houston Rockets for Carl Landry. Landry is an up and coming young big man in the NBA who is averaging 17.9 points and 6.7 rebounds for the Kings in 23 games.
Evans has averaged 14.3 points, 9.7 assists and 6.3 rebounds in the team's last three games and had 32 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds in the last game against San Antonio. A game the Spurs won 115-113.
The Spurs hold a 6-0 lead over the Kings in their head-to-head regular season series since the 2008-2009 season.
KEYS TO THE GAME
On Offense: Tim Duncan has to get going early in the against the Kings' young bigs. Manu will probably have more time the point with Parker and Hill out. He has to pace himself and try to get other players involved on offense.
On Defense: Protect the paint, close out the passing lanes, cover the perimeter shooters and play tough defense on Kings' rookie Evans. I'm looking at you Keith Bogans!
On Offense: The Kings have to put the ball in Evans' hands early. Let him start the offense and create some scoring opportunities for his teammates.
On Defense: Put pressure on Ginobili when he's playing the point. Control Tim Duncan in the post. Kings' Landry will have his hands full with Duncan.
Tony Parker - fractured fourth metacarpal, right hand. Expected to play tonight.
George Hill - sprained right ankle (might miss two games)
Francisco Garcia - sore wrist (day-to-day)
Omri Casspi - sprained ankle (day-to-day)
Spencer Hawes - knee injury (out for the rest of the season)
The Spurs can't afford to make the same mistakes they did against the Nets and play down to their opponent. Expect them to try to build a good lead early and limit the minutes of their starters knowing that they will face the Phoenix Suns on the second night of back-to-backs.
The Kings will try to make a game out of it while the Spurs will do their best to put the game away early on. With the way things are going lately, it's hard to argue against the Spurs. Add the fact that most teams are avoiding the Lakers in the first round of playoffs, the Spurs will do their best to win this game. With that being said, the Spurs will win this one 100-91.