Game Preview: Spurs vs. Kings
Saddle up, the annual Rodeo Road Trip begins tonight in Sacramento. If there is any hope to be salvaged this season–outside of any potential blockbuster trades–history (and a reminder from John Hollinger) dictates that it will come from the next few weeks.
The good news about the rodeo trip, however, is the Spurs’ history. Historically, it’s been when they’ve begun their late-season charge after lying in the weeds for more than half of the season.
Once can make a case that they’re ready to make a similar move. Although San Antonio’s recent results are cause for concern, it has spent half a season assimilating seven new players and playing through injuries to Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. It’s only now that the Spurs have really become comfortable with the pieces they have.
Coming off their less than impressive home stand, it’s imperative that the Spurs get off to a good start. A trip to Sacramento might be the cure for what ails them (the Kings are 1-9 over their last ten games), but rookie duo Tyreke Evans and Omri Casspi can make any victory questionable when they both show their flashes of brilliance at the same time.
Whereas Duncan entered the league with so much polish and poise, Evans’ Rookie of the Year campaign is a mixture of unexpected production and untapped potential. Evans, as ESPN’s David Thorpe writes, is anything but polished but extremely dangerous already.
Evans lacks range on his jumper, makes only about a quarter of his 3-point attempts, and struggles to drive and finish going left. But almost nobody can guard him. That’s what you call talent. (It helps to be long and strong, too.)
He is extremely crafty with stopping and starting on dribble drives and has improved his ability to finish in traffic around the rim. He’s also very tough to slow down when he’s pushing the ball in transition, as he searches out a crease before exploding through it. And his size and skill with the ball force defenders to foul him often, so he spends a lot of the game on the foul line, too.
The matchup of the night could be Manu Ginobili and his disregard for all forms of life. He’s been in a slump all season, which explains why one of his few signature highlights this year has been his knocking a bat out of mid air.
The more likely target of his aggressions tonight will be Kevin Martin. Not known for his defense, to say the least, Martin should offer Ginobili the perfect opportunity to get his missing scoring game on track.