Suns Take on Spurs in Matchup of Identical Records
If you blinked 80,000,000 times (roughly a 10-year span), you still wouldn’t have missed much when it comes to the Spurs. Tim Duncan is still there. So is Tony Parker. Manu Ginobili hasn’t left yet, either. Gregg Popovich is still roaming the sidelines.
There’s also the equally long-lasting relevance amid an ever-changing Western Conference. They’ve started this season no different, winning three of their first four contests. Their lone defeat came on the second night of a back-to-back road set.
Wednesday night marks the end of another back-to-back for both teams, which could mean enforced rest for Duncan and possibly others, according to San Antonio Express-News beat writer Jeff McDonald. Two of the Spurs’ wins, however, came without Duncan’s services. He finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and four blocks in Tuesday night’s win.
Parker continues to quietly excel. His 24-point performance last night came on 9-of-13 shooting. Brazilian big man Tiago Splitter leads the team in rebounds at 8.5 per contest.
Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe has already matched up against reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard and All-Stars Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday. Parker is next on the docket, bringing an entirely different skill set and approach.
Where Bledsoe’s previous opponents relied on youthful athleticism, Parker’s craftiness continues to befuddle defenders. It’s a big reason why he continues to be effective year after year, as well as why opposing teams often assign their best perimeter player to guard him, regardless of position. With Kahwi Leonard blossoming into a legit offensive threat, that option has become less feasible.
Parker, however, is not nearly as formidable on defense as Bledsoe, something the Suns guard will likely take advantage of. Don’t be surprised if the point guard battle kickstarts a coaches’ game of matchup chess before the night is over.
How many minutes will the Spurs starters play? Had they started the season as poorly as many predicted, Phoenix might have offered a night off for many of the San Antonio regulars.
Instead, the Suns are 3-1, and their stingy defense (top five in opponent field goal percentage) is a concern for a Spurs team that needs its stars to score enough points to win.
Popovich, however is notoriously adamant about providing rest on the end of back-to-backs. Tonight marks their fourth game in six nights, with the previous three all happening on the road. How cautious he is with his Duncan & Co. could have a game-deciding impact.
Which Green will be the better two-guard tonight? Danny Green made a name for himself during the Spurs’ run to the Finals last season, but he’s just 4-of-16 from the field through four games.
Gerald Green, on the other hand, will self-combust if he’s any hotter from beyond the arc than he has been the last two games. The seventh-year swingman has hit 12 of his last 22 three-pointers, including 11 makes combined over the last two games.
Either guard is capable of having a break-out shooting performance and swinging the game by himself. It’s what Danny Green did in the playoffs, and what Gerald Green did more recently against New Orleans.
If one of them gets hot, expect that Green’s team to pull ahead.