DeMar DeRozan dribbles against Jayson Tatum

Pregame Post-Ups: Why Stevens Isn't Sleeping on Spurs

Saturday, November 9 - Celtics at Spurs

Pregame – Stevens Isn't Sleeping on This Spurs Team

SAN ANTONIO – For some reason, there are some people who are associated with the NBA who are sleeping on a San Antonio Spurs franchise that has logged 20 straight winning seasons. Brad Stevens is not one of those people.

In fact, Stevens is at the other end of the spectrum. It sounds like he is very impressed by this season’s Spurs team, which he and the Celtics will take on tonight in San Antonio.

“It’s fun to watch them play,” Stevens said before Saturday’s matchup. “It’s fun to watch how their first unit plays, and then the dynamic when their second unit comes in and how fast they play together.

“And it’s fun to see some of the carryover from the old guard of (Tony) Parker, (Manu) Ginobili and (Tim) Duncan that’s been passed down to some of these younger guys now that are taking the reins with, obviously, (DeMar) DeRozan and (LaMarcus) Aldridge kinda holding down the fort.”

DeRozan and Aldridge are two players in particular who Stevens believes a lot of pundits are overlooking.

“Sometimes I think that people forget how good DeRozan and Aldridge are when discussing this team,” he said. “They’re special players.”

DeRozan enters this contest averaging 20.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.13 steals per game this season while making 51.6 percent of his shots. Aldridge, meanwhile, carries averages of 19.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.13 blocks per game with him while making 51.7 percent of his shots.

DeRozan has always been a thorn in Boston’s side, but Aldridge will be the biggest matchup problem tonight for the Celtics.

Aldridge, at 6-foot-11 and 250 pounds, is simply bigger than every player on Boston’s roster. To make things even more difficult, he is also a highly-skilled player, which is a combination the Celtics have yet to face off against this season.

“Those guys are all really good, but Aldridge is such a threat in the catch-and-shoot, from some of the pick-and-pops, both in the long 2 and out to the 3-point line,” Stevens said of the big man. “And then he just makes really hard post-up shots. If he gets to that left shoulder, he can get fouled. He can get deep. But if he goes to that right-shoulder turnaround, I’m not sure what you do about it in an isolated matchup.”

Those comments make it sound as if the Celtics will employ a similar attack against Aldridge tonight as they did against Joel Embiid on Opening Night. Boston consistently sent immediate double-teams at Embiid in an attempt to get the ball out of his hands. That might be the only way for the C’s to counteract Aldridge’s abilities tonight.

Stevens sees the matchup with Aldridge and the rest of the 5-3 Spurs as a very challenging one. While some around the league might think the Spurs have fallen off, Stevens certainly does not.

- Marc D'Amico

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