The Mavs face one of their chief rivals in a game that is being played up as a big test for the reworked team. The Mavs have faced the Spurs twice already this season and have split them. They won the first handily 105-92, and lost the second one 97-95 at the hands of Manu Ginobili's 37-point outburst. The Mavs have won four of their last five against the Spurs.
Small splash to get bigger
The Spurs made a small splash amid all the Western-Conference cannonballs near the trade deadline. Dealing filler big man Francisco Elson and veteran outside shooter Brent Barry to the Sonics for PF/C Kurt Thomas gave the Spurs more skilled size and some different options with their lineup that they didn't have before. Thomas played his first game as a Spur Monday night and logged 4 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks in only 13 minutes of play. The Spurs have to be pleased about getting bigger with most of the other West teams. Thomas averaged 7.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and one block per game with Seattle. Center Fabricio Oberto continues to start, but that seems to be in title alone and may change once Thomas gets into the swing of things.
Parker returning slowly
Point guard Tony Parker recently missed nine games with an ankle injury but has played in their last three games. He's been slow in his return and have averaged 11 points, 4.7 assists and is shooting a very uncharacteristic 38.9 percent from the floor. Compare that to season averages of 18.6 points, six assists and 48.6 percent shooting, and you can tell that he hasn't been at 100 percent so far. He's had two full days off to rest, which is a day longer than he's had between his last three games, so it's possible he'll have more spring in his step tonight.
Ginobili the starter?
With Parker out for awhile, the Spurs opted to start Manu Ginobili for a stretch. But, now that Parker has been back for three games, Gonobili still starting. That makes 12 straight starts, which gives him 14 on the season. Usually, he is the Spurs' super sub, and plays starter-like minutes despite not hearing his name called during team intros. The Spurs have won 10 of 12 with his starting, so it's possible that they don't want to mess with a good thing right now. Still, don't be surprised if you see him back to usual bench role tonight.
Can they make the push and win a division that has four probable playoff teams in it? Do they even care if they do?
-Scooter Hendon, Hoops Nerd