The Mavericks will finish up a three-game road trip in familiar territory tonight. The Spurs (15-3) find themselves leading the Southwest divison and on a three-game winning streak. In the Mavs' last meeting with the Spurs, they had one of their most lopsided victories of the year in a 105-92 victory that was less competitive than the final score dictates. The Mavs smothered Tony Parker all night, and the offense came to a halt. More of the same might be in order because...
Duncan out, Ginobili questionable
If the Spurs are without two of their best three players, that allows the Mavericks to focus on Tony Parker even more. We saw what happened the last game. It's very simple, but not easy. You deny Tony Parker penetration, and the Spurs offense doesn't get the easy opportunities that they're used to. Without Manu Ginobili, the Spurs will miss another playmaking threat that could potentially ease some of the load off Parker. Without Tim Duncan, the Spurs will lack a sure defensive hand in the post and could open up the Mavericks slashers to get inside more than they're used to against the Spurs.
So who's going to play?
The Spurs have started the same five players for all 18 games this season, but that will obviously change tonight with Duncan sitting. Starting in place of Duncan may be fifth-year center Francisco Elson. He started 49 games last year and is playing the most minutes of Spurs' big men outside of starters Duncan and Fabricio Oberto. Fourth-year power forward Matt Bonner could also get the nod to start, but expect Elson to play big minutes no matter who's starting. If Ginobili does miss the game tonight, some lower-minute players will have to shoulder more of the load. It's unlikely that coach Gregg Popovich would ride veterans Michael Finley and Brent Barry too much more than he already does, so Ime Udoka, Darius Washington and Jacque Vaughn will probably be seeing more minutes than they're used to. Robert Horry made his season debut on Monday and could see more minutes as well.
"Injured Star" theory
Coach Popovich thinks that when a team's best player goes down with an injury, the other players step up and play above their abilities to cover for the loss of the star. Although that may be true when one star goes down (Duncan), it may be more difficult to pull off when another star (Ginobili) also doesn't play. Still, the Spurs have lost four in a row to the Mavericks now and will be gunning harder than usual, especially if some of the younger players get more minutes or the Spurs decide to go small, which is reasonably likely.
- Tim Duncan's injury.
- If you thought the Mavs did some goofy local commercials...
- Remeber this silliness?
Random Useless Fact
Brent Barry's father Rick and two brothers Jon and Drew were NBA players, but his oldest brother Scooter won the 1988 NCAA championship with Kansas.
-Scooter Hendon, Hoops Nerd