Wolves vs. Spurs Gameday
The Spurs are not pleased with the recent drop in offensive production and consecutive losses to playoff contending teams. In the game against New Orleans, San Antonio only posted 83 points and had an even worse performance at Orlando with 78 points in the defeat. The Spurs fell to 21st in the league in points scored even with Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili all healthy for the majority of this month. One could say the Spurs are in a pretty good position considering their 17-10 record and 8-3 mark in December. San Antonio sits in third place in the ultra-competitive Southwest Division. Through 27 games, the Spurs rank fourth in points allowed at 93.8 points per game as they remain one of the best defensive teams in the league. The Wolves have displayed grit and determination against the four-time NBA champions in the two meetings this season. The first loss occurred on November 5 with Tony Parker lighting up the scoreboard to a tune of 55 points, seven rebounds, and ten assists in a double overtime victory. In the second contest at the Target Center, the Spurs used a nine point advantage in the third quarter to pull away late and get the 98-86 victory. Facing a possible 13-game losing streak, Minnesota will have a difficult challenge in San Antonio tonight.
Parker’s career-high 55 points in November was a clear indication of his development as a scorer for this San Antonio team. His strength is penetrating the defense and reaching the paint with success. Parker ranks fourth among point guards in field goal percentage along with averaging 20.5 points per game. The Spurs like to run pick-and-roll plays with Parker that allows the Frenchman to flash to the basket or hit a rolling big man for a layup. In the second loss, the Wolves limited Parker to just one point through three quarters of play before he exploded in the fourth quarter with 16 points. The onus is on Randy Foye and Kevin Ollie to keep Parker outside the paint and make him into a jump shooter. San Antonio starts Roger Mason at the shooting guard position and will bring the 07’ Sixth Man of the Year off the bench. Ginobili is a crafty veteran that can get to the lane in tight spaces while possessing a deadly outside shot. He missed the first game against Minnesota but provided 16 of the 35 bench points for the Spurs in the December 12 victory. When Parker and Ginobili join forces, they form one of the most talented backcourts in the league.
Tim Duncan is a future Hall of Fame player and has continued his stellar play in 2008. The power forward averages 20 points and ten rebounds this season. Head coach Greg Popovich will dump the ball in the post to run the offense through Duncan. He is an extremely patient player that will wait for the double team or expose the opposition with a variety of moves in the post. Duncan scored 17 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and five blocked shots less than two weeks ago at the Target Center. Al Jefferson actually had success against Duncan on the offensive side of the floor with a combined 59 points with 27 rebounds in the two meetings this season. The Wolves will rely on Jefferson’s production tonight but his defensive will be critical for an upset. Matt Bonner will start at the center position and shocked the Wolves fans by shooting 2-for-3 from the 3-point line. While Bonner is not considered an offensive threat, he is the second best shooter from the arc for San Antonio.
The Wolves have not won a game in San Antonio in five years and have lost 12 of the last 13 meetings. With a defeat tonight, the Wolves would fall for the 13th straight time as the team hopes to avoid a franchise record 16 straight losses set in 1992. The Spurs are fresh off a 101-85 victory over Sacramento last night with a 10-5 home record. Tipoff scheduled for 8:30 PM at the AT&T Center.
Wolves: Mike Miller is listed as day-to-day with a sprained right ankle. Miller tweaked the same ankle that cost him four games earlier this season in the loss to Houston on Saturday night.
Spurs: Fabricio Oberto is doubtful with a sore left.
Tony Parker, PG
Roger Mason, SG
Michael Finley, SF
Tim Duncan, PF
Matt Bonner, C
Randy Foye, PG
Rashad McCants, SG
Ryan Gomes, SF
Craig Smith, PF
Al Jefferson, C