Spurs vs. Suns: Would This Be a Signature Win?

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Another road game against the sixth best team in the Western Conference without your most or second-most important player. That is what the Spurs are up against tonight as they head to the US Airways Center to take on the Phoenix Suns. Last time the two teams played, it was the second week of the season and the Spurs narrowly beat the Suns 99-96 in San Antonio.

This game will be different in so many ways. Part of the reason the Spurs beat the Suns that November night was because Tony Parker went nuts in the second half and willed San Antonio to victory. That’s not going to happen this game as the Spurs announced yesterday Parker would miss at least the next two games after suffering a shin injury against the Clippers. Another difference is the Spurs were on the second night of a back-to-back and effort was definitely an issue. Will they be any more tired this time around seeing as they’re in the midst of a stretch of seven games in 10 nights?

There’s also a difference of mentality between this game and the last. Last time the Spurs were playing a team that was supposed to be one of the two or three worst teams in the West. Now, they’re playing a team that is extremely well coached and has a potential top 20 player in Eric Bledsoe. Even for a team that preaches professionalism like the Spurs do, there’s going to be a difference in focus when you think a team is bad and when you know a team is good. That doesn’t mean the Spurs are going to win, it just means they haven’t overlooked the Suns because they’ve got the Warriors the next night.

Matchup-wise, this means we’re likely to see Cory Joseph get the start in Parker’s place so the Spurs rotation can stay intact. Joseph is a big physical, guard who doesn’t have Bledsoe’s athletic gifts, but he’s a good defender who won’t let Bledsoe just drive by him. Bledsoe may also make it tough for Joseph to initiate the offense, so we might see Manu Ginobili in for Danny Green earlier than normal to help with ball handling. These are things the Spurs can handle though, especially if they continue to get the recent stellar play of Tim Duncan. In his last 10 games, Duncan’s averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds on 53 percent shooting.

Tip off from the US Airways Center is tonight at 8 p.m. CT.

All Stats Courtesy of ESPN