There is no doubt that our Spurs are on a bit of a roll right now and that the schedule has definitely turned favorable. And with the Lakers – even without Pau and Dwight, as is bring reported at multiple media sites today – looming on Wednesday, tonight at New Orleans smells like a classic trap game.
1. Song of the Game: Ivan Neville, “Not Just Another Girl”
A game in New Orleans gives me a chance to hype a lesser-known Neville. Ivan is Aaron’s son and an outstanding musician in his own right. His career crosses a number of lines and genres, from rock to pop to his dad’s style of r&b. He was a member of Spin Doctors for a while, in addition to playing with Keith Richards’ solo project, X-Pensive Winos, back in the 80s. This song is from the 1988 album If My Ancestors Could See Me Now and is straight party pop-rock. I listened through this again today and was pleasantly surprised how well it stands the test of time.
2. Who Has to Be Stopped: Eric Gordon
Gordon is a stud. On a team without a ton of offensive threats, his return means that the Hornets may have some say in who makes the playoffs in the West. At home, when Gordon is on, they are going to be a problem for those middle-tier Western Conference teams who are expecting an easy win in the Big Easy.
I’m expecting a rotating defenders on Gordon, starting with Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard. I suspect one of the two will be on Gordon every time he is on the floor.
3. Who Has to Go Off: Splitter
I’m predicting an 18-8 kind of game (with a couple of assists thrown in too) for Tiago. He’ll be guarded in stretches by Robin Lopez and Jason Smith, neither of whom have the mobility to cover Tiago’s dives down the paint. You’ll see a lot of high screen-roll with Parker and Ginobili at the top with the ball.
4. And the Crystal Ball Says….: Spurs, 101; Hornets, 92
I cannot in good faith predict a blowout win here, although it’s certainly possible. But the most likely outcome is that the Spurs coast through a chunk of this game and our bench continues its highly mediocre play, leading to a closer-than-you’d-like result against an 8-25 team.
5. I’m Wrong If….: Slacking Spurs, Gordon is God
If the Spurs fall into the trap part of the trap game are looking ahead to Kobe and the Lakers. And if Gordon is as unstoppable as he was against Dallas, the Spurs will struggle. Did you see the highlights of his overtime? He was awesome. Imagine if he was still with this Clippers team. I know CP3 was a nice get for LA, but I think Gordon is a top tier talent just waiting for more talent around him.
6. Odds and Ends
If you’ve not read Dan McCarney’s excellent post on the SAEN blog, it is unquestionably worth your time. It’s basically a look at some comparative advanced metrics for the Spurs going back to the championship seasons and comparing to today. The upshot is that the Spurs are about as good defensively and offensively as they were in their prime. The difference now is their pace. It’s gone from 27th in 06-07 to 2nd this season. Read the whole post here. You can also follow him on Twitter @danmcarneysaen. He’s been a solid addition to the SAEN staff this season and seems to be a fan of the advanced metrics we all love so much.
I’m also thinking that the Spurs need a Big 3 Sitdown game. The bench has been struggling for the last few weeks, in that they have not held some leads (against Milwaukee, for example) and the ball movement has generally been worse than earlier in the season. Those Big 3 Sitdown games tend to galvanize the bench and force them to work through some of those issues, knowing that there is no cavalry coming to bail them out. I’m watching the schedule to see if there’s a road game that Pop can roll out the bench mob.