spurs preview inside
Preview: Keys to Beat Spurs

By Jace Darling, bobcats.com

February 6, 2014

VIDEOS: Al Jefferson Post Practice | Kemba Walker Post Practice | Steve Clifford Post Practice | Lauer Sounds Off: Bill Beyer

KEY MATCHUP vs. SPURS: Al Jefferson vs. Tim Duncan

In the ever-changing world that is the NBA, the style of play has evolved over the years. A game that was once played under the basket and dominated by big men has moved to a faster-paced game with an overabundance of players who have the tendency to want to take jump shots. As the game has grown, so have the skills on the offensive end by players once thought to be out of place on the low blocks. However, the Charlotte Bobcats and San Antonio Spurs still play the style of game that requires a strong low post presence. The Cats are led by Al Jefferson, who has been white hot as of late, while the Spurs continue to feed off of the play of 16-year veteran Tim Duncan… Jefferson is quietly having a year that has seen averages well above his career numbers (19.9 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists) and over the course of the last month, Jefferson has been simply dominant. Jefferson has scored 30 or more points in four of his last five games and has posted at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in eight of his last 10 games, including three-straight games with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds from Jan. 25-31. Jefferson set Bobcats franchise records and career bests of 11-straight 20-point games (Jan. 11-31), three-straight 30-point games (Jan. 25-31), four-straight 20-point and 10-rebound games (Jan. 17-22, tied franchise record) and three-straight 30-10 games (Jan. 25-31) and has posted 16 double-doubles in his last 25 games and 22 in his last 34 contests… In his 17th season Tim Duncan is still playing his game at a high level. Although slightly below his career averages this season (15.4 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 2.4 blocks) Duncan is still a force to be reckoned with in the low post. Duncan leads all active players in career double-doubles (points and rebounds) and is sixth all-time, tallying 788 total. So far this season, the two-time MVP has collected 21 double-doubles, including a 23-point, 21-rebound effort vs. Atlanta Hawks on Dec. 2. A total of 485 of those double-doubles are 20-point, 10-rebound games (most among active players), and 108 are 30-point, 10-rebound games. Duncan is one of only three players in the NBA to average 15+ points, 10+ rebounds and 2.0+ blocks on the season, joining New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis and Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard on the short list. Additionally, San Antonio is 15-6 on the season when Duncan tallies a double-double.

SCOUTING THE BOBCATS

The Cats are returning home after a successful four-game West Coast road trip that saw the team go 3-1 with victories over the Nuggets, Lakers and Warriors. As a reward, the Cats will play host to the San Antonio Spurs on Feb. 8, at Time Warner Cable Arena in the third of five Buzz City Nights… The biggest news from the road trip was the welcoming back of Kemba Walker into the starting five. Walker’s first game back was against Golden State on Feb. 4 at Oracle Arena. In his return, Walker played 32:54 minutes, scored seven points (3-for-11), pulled down six boards, dished out seven assists and one steal… The name of the game for the Cats is always defense first. Entering Saturday’s action, the Bobcats are giving up only 97.4 points per game, which is the sixth-lowest average in the NBA. They have held their opponent under 100 points in 32 of their 50 games this season, which is the third-most such games in the NBA. The Bobcats held 13-straight opponents under 100 points from Nov. 13-Dec. 6, which tied the second-longest streak in franchise history and tied the longest streak in the NBA this season, set by the Spurs from Nov. 5-29. The Bobcats have played a league-high 23 games this season decided by six points or less and are 12-11 in those games… The Bobcats are also averaging 25.1 free throw attempts and have attempted more free throws than their opponent in 34 of their 50 contests this season, with 20 of their 22 victories coming from that scenario and are 20-14 when doing so. The Bobcats are also a perfect 5-0 when scoring 100+ points at home.

SCOUTING THE SPURS

San Antonio is in the midst of their annual “Rodeo Road Trip.” The Spurs will play nine consecutive games away from the Alamo City, and are currently 2-0. The trip began in New Orleans on Feb. 3. The team won’t return home until a Feb. 26 matchup against Detroit. Overall, the Spurs will travel 8,989 total miles across the country during the trip. Playing away from home can be a challenge for NBA teams, but it’s something the San Antonio Spurs have become accustomed to excelling at. San Antonio owns the best road record in the NBA with an 18-5 record and ranks sixth in the NBA in points scored on the road (103.3). Additionally, the Spurs have out-shot their opponent in 17 of 23 away games and have won all of those contests… San Antonio is one of five teams (Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder) to be ranked in the Top 10 in both points allowed (fifth) and opponent field goal percentage (eighth) this season. The Spurs have held opponents under 100 points in more than half of their matchups (29-for-49 games) this season, including 12 games in which opponents scored below 90 points. The Spurs are the only team in the NBA ranked in the Top 5 in both offensive (fifth) and defensive efficiency (fifth), garnering a 107.7 and 99.9 rating, respectively. Offensively, the Spurs rank second in assists, second in field goal percentage, first in three-point field goal percentage and 10th in points scored per game… Additionally, the Spurs have shot 50 percent or better in 22 games this season and are 19-3 in those games, while recording a 30-8 record when scoring 100 points or more.

TUNE IN

This game can be seen on Fox SportSouth or NBA League Pass or you can listen live on bobcats.com, the Bobcats app or WFNZ 610 am.

LISTEN TO WFNZ BROADCAST LIVE: QuickTime | Windows Media Player | iTunes | Real Player