The San Antonio Spurs (38-14) are back home in the AT&T Center as they prepare to host the visiting New Orleans Hornets (14-40) for the final time this season tonight.
The Spurs will have their full roster available tonight, but the Hornets will be missing point guard Jarrett Jack (sore right ankle), who averages 26.5 points and seven assists against the Spurs this season.
The Hornets will still be getting some offense through returning shooting guard Eric Gordon, who will play in his second game since returning from injury. Greivis Vasquez will be starting at point guard while Emeka Okafor and Chris Johnson will also be out with injuries.
In his pregame conversation, head coach Monty Williams discussed why the Spurs are so tough to defeat.
“They play the game the right way,” said Williams, “they carry out their game plan.”
Williams also thinks the Spurs have a legitimate shot at the NBA championship.
“They look like they’re primed to make a run at the title.”
When describing the Spurs’ players, Williams commented on every player on roster and their ability on the court except for Patty Mills and James Anderson. Listening to Williams name player after player who can make an impact on the game tells of what coaches of other teams have to prepare for when facing San Antonio.
Williams was once with the Spurs as an assistant coach, he credits their ability to either find hidden talent (Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili) or mold the talent in individuals (Danny Green) to Popovich, General Manager R.C. Buford, and assistant coach Brett Brown.
“They know what they’re doing,” said Williams on the Spurs’ organization.
Williams also commented on one Spurs player who can easily take over a game, yet he comes off of the bench.
“He’s a model of selflessness,” said Williams of the Spurs’ Ginobili’s role of leading the Spurs’ second unit, when Ginobili is really a starter in the NBA.
And finally, what’s a pregame story without a coach Gregg Popovich quote?
Unfortunately, I was the one to ask the not-so-brilliant question to Pop tonight, I should have rephrased the question a bit better.
I asked Pop if it would be a different game with Eric Gordon playing, and Jarrett Jack sitting, Pop gave me the response I deserved.
“When there’s different people playing, one would say that there’s a different look,” Pop began, “because they’re different people, so they look different. You’re exactly right,” Pop told me, “very incisive, very incisive.”
Guys, one of the reasons Pop indicated we would not be great defensive team is that the rules have changed. Perimeter defenders can't do much for quicker guards to slow them down. It isn't surprising what TP does to most teams, and so it is also true neither can we without packing the lane, or constant hard "shows". When you make adjustments to stop penetration, the basket or the corners yield shots.
I shot blocking inside presence can offset bad defense, but have very little of this, so we score more than they do. The high point totals for the other team are also partly the result of our high scoring, as the number of both teams possessions go up significantly. Just check percentage on 3's from the corner of the opposition to see why they are a little above average, but when we play high intensity defense, we are as good as anyone, it is just that no team can play this way for 4 qtrs, just look at what the high intensity Heat have become.
OK, the spurs won over tyhe hornets but they are giving too many shots. They don't play defense they used to. It will tell later on. By the way, the thunders lost. The the spurs and thunders are at par now.
@rtesoro440 Pop did say we are not going to be an elite defensive team we once was, basically we're going to try to outscore other teams and there are my reasons to believe we will. Our defense is not as bad as the Suns when they were making championship runs, it's just mediocre and it will remain that way. I think our offense is just too good to be stopped or halted in the playoffs by any team, I mean Gary Neal is our 5,6th option and he is hell of a scorer!!!
The spurs have the tie break over the Thunder so if they finish with identical record the Spurs will get 1st seed. question is would you rather play the Lakers in the 2nd round or Memphis....
@Spursforever69 @rtesoro440 Good point Spursforever69, the Spurs know they won't be the "hold teams to less than 90 points" defensive teams of the past. Their main goal is to hold their opponents in crunch time situations, and do their best to limit a teams main scoring threat. The offense is so powerful this season that's it's hard to find a deeper bench than this Spurs team. Even when the Suns won with offense, that was only with a 7-8 man rotation. This Spurs team could have a 10-man rotation by the time the playoffs come with every player capable of leading the team in scoring in any given night. That's what makes this team so scary.