At this point last month it looked as if there wouldn't be an NBA season with the lockout in its stages of non-discussions. Today, we have preseason basketball for the San Antonio Spurs as the team gets set to face the Houston Rockets tonight in Houston after the lockout was finally put to an end on November 26.
With preseason games comes the tradition of head coach Gregg Popovich sitting out some veterans and allowing some of the younger players some minutes to learn the system in a very short preseason period.
Of those veterans not to play tonight are Tim Duncan and Tony Parker according to the San Antonio Express News. Both players won't even be in Houston tonight for the game and its questionable if Manu Ginobili will see any floor time as well.
The good sign will be the unveiling of rookie Kawhi Leonard, rookie Cory Joseph, and newcomer T.J. Ford.
Here are the projected starting lineups:
San Antonio Spurs- PG T.J. Ford, SG Manu Ginobili, SF Richard Jefferson, PF Tiago Splitter, C DeJuan Blair.
The Spurs' bench will most likely be comprised of Kawhi Leonard, James Anderson, Matt Bonner, Danny Green, Cory Joseph, Steve Novak, Antoine Hood, Gani Lawal, Doug Thomas, and Luke Zeller.
Injured Reserve-Shooting guard Gary Neal won't be playing in the preseason after having an appendectomy procedure done in this past week.
Houston Rockets- PG Kyle Lowry, SG Kevin Martin, SF Chase Budinger, PF Luis Scola, C Hasheem Thabeet
Key contributors on the Rockets bench are Goran Dragic, Jordan Hill, Jonny Flynn, and Courtney Lee.
Look for a close game in this one as the Spurs could be without all three members of the "Big 3", should coach Popovich elect to rest Ginobili as well.
For San Antonio, the main area to watch is how Kawhi Leonard and James Anderson play when put on the floor. One of the two will most likely be battling Richard Jefferson throughout the early part of the season for the starting small forward position. Though he's barely getting his first practice with the team, keep an eye for rookie Cory Joseph. He's an excellent on-the-ball defender from what I've seen, but his ability to score and shoot is still suspect in my opinion.
For the Rockets, there's going to be a point guard battle between Lowry, Dragic and newcomer Flynn. Flynn was the starting point guard in Minnesota when head coach Kevin McHale was the general manager in Minnesota.
The game is set to tip-off at 7 PM (CST) in the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
@TylerCameron I wouldn't expect much of Joseph at all, maybe garbage time? He just signed after all. Leonard on the other hand will probably get quite a few minutes, and I'm definitely excited for that.
Actually, Joseph and Leonard both played quite poorly. Joseph's highly touted defense wasn't quite as good as I thought it would be and Leonard had a bad shooting night (he has a similar game as RJ's where he likes to shoot instead of drive). Leonard is great defensively but James Anderson was much more impressive, and by far the most impressive was Tiago Splitter who went off in the third quarter showing some new post moves that make me excited for the Spurs' future. Also there was this guy Hassal who was a big man and was pretty good but only got a few minutes in the second quarter. He would be an interesting guy to keep because we badly need another big man (even Jordan Hill was killing us in the paint). @mrniko @TylerCameron