The Spurs arrive in Toronto sporting a 10-3 record, a rejuvenated power forward, and a brutal schedule amidst a slew of injuries. Between now and Thursday’s road trip closer at Miami, the Spurs will 3 other games, all against generally crappy teams. But as we see in the NBA every season, even really good teams struggle with this kind of schedule.
1. Sustenance & Song: Wholly Cow and Hurray for the Riff Raff’s “Look Out Mama”
I’m a big fan of a great hamburger and last time I was in Austin, I discovered what may be my favorite. The place is Wholly Cow, on the corner of 4th and Congress and the menu is real, organic, grass-fed beef, doctored up anyway you want it. If you’ve not had this kind of burger before, be warned: it tastes different. Organic grass-fed beef just has a different, but truer flavor. It’s so, so good. Trust me.
The song is a fantastic folk/blues group from New Orleans, with a lead singer whose voice is like spun gold. The resurgence of folk music in American culture is fully on course with the arrival of bands like this.
2. Key Match Up: Lowry vs. Parker
Without our SF contingent healthy, Pop opted to start Gary Neal at SG and Danny Green at SF against the Pacers, meaning we had the smallest backcourt since Napoleon played point for the French national team (Argh, that was bad. Sorry. Let’s move on.) Someone is going to have to guard DeRozan, who starts at SG, and McGuire, who is listed at 6’9″ and starts at SF. Ideally, Pop could cross match and let Danny chase Kyle Lowry around screens, but with the size Toronto has, I don’t think he’ll have that option. How the Spurs choose to attack Lowry may determine a lot about how this game goes.
3. Keeping An Eye On: Shooting Efficiency
Toronto is not a good defensive team. At all. They have few rim protectors and only a couple of guys who you might consider decent individual defenders. So, I think the Spurs will get their shots and anything else they want on offense. How efficient they are and how well they shoot open shots will determine if Tim, Tony, and Manu play the whole or get to watch James Anderson’s second Spurs debut in the 4th quarter.
4. Bold Prediction: Spurs Win by 10
I do think their will be a couple of losses on this portion of the roadtrip, but I don’t think this will be one of them. But it will be closer than you think. Vegas, by the way, only has the Spurs -6, which tells you what they think of this roadtrip.
Odds and Ends
The only thing more painful than watching the Pacers miss 14 straight shots on Friday was listening to Sean Marks try to make color commentary about it. I liked Sean as a player – always grit and hustle – but I’m not sure what he thought he was bringing to the table for that game. Most of his comments were of the “That’s a nice move by <fill in player name>” variety. That’s not so much color commentary as stating the obvious. I’ll put it this way: he made me wish for Danny Ferry.
Look for a lot of bodies and some strange rotations over the first three games of the roadie. All of these teams – the Raptors, Wizards, and Magic – are built with starters playing out of traditional positions. Between that and the schedule, Pop is going to mix it up in some strange ways. I will also predict that if the Spurs win today, one of the next 3 is going to feature the JV lineup, with a starting backcourt of Cory Joseph and Gary Neal.