Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Regular Season Game 1: Hosting the Pacers

So this is something that I was planning on doing last season, but didn't get around to, so hopefully, I do a better job this season.  In terms of NBA games, this is one we should win, should being the operative word there, but of course, since it is the NBA, you never know with a single game.  Here's what the matchups are boiling down to:

PG Tony Parker Darren Collison
SG Manu Ginobili Mike Dunleavy
SF Richard Jefferson Danny Granger
PF DeJuan Blair Josh McRoberts
C Tim Duncan Roy Hibbert
Bench George Hill
James Anderson
Bobby Simmons
Matt Bonner
Antonio McDyess
T.J. Ford
Dahntay Jones
Paul George
Tyler Hansbrough
Jeff Foster

So this is a good opportunity for Jefferson's new-found defensive tenacity and summer work with Pop to really start showing some fruit.  I unfortunately didn't have the opportunity to catch any of the Spurs' preseason games, but from what I read, the reaction to Jefferson's production thusfar has been mixed.  In the preseason, statistically, he wasn't significantly improved from last season, but some people put it that he looks much better than last year, looking more decisive and comfortable on the court, in the offense, and much more aggressive on defense.  He also seemed to show good mojo with Manu Ginobili (then again, who wouldn't?), which may be part of why Pop moved Manu back to the starting lineup.  Anyways, we know Danny Granger can score, he's got a nice touch from mid to long range.  However, the criticism has been that he doesn't really do a whole lot else, which is why he was bench fodder on Team USA during FIBA in the offseason.  As I've said plenty of times before, in addition to Jefferson being aggressive in with his man defense, he has to punish the opposition on the other side of the floor as well, forcing whoever is guarding him to work or give up easy buckets.

With the slowing Duncan, and lack of Tiago Splitter thusfar, the matchups ultimately come down to pick-and-rolls.  Dwight Howard once said in an interview that Darren Collison is one of the more difficult players to guard off a pick-and-roll simply because he's difficult to anticipate (or in Dwight's words "He's real jerky").  Yahoo Sports has T.J. Ford starting this game, which may be entirely possible, but I'm think it's a Collison start.  How well Parker and Duncan can contain a Collison-Hibbert pick-and-roll offense is really, I think going to mitigate the effectiveness of the Pacers.  Outside of Granger, the Pacers really don't have much of an offensive option, of course that's also pending the effectiveness of Bill Walton working with Roy Hibbert during the offseason.  While Mike Dunleavy is back and healthy, he apparently has nothing between the bones in his knee, so I see his effectiveness being very limited. 

While preseason was a good indicator of who will actually make the rotation, this game will be a better indication of what that rotation will specifically look like.  While the Spurs should handily roll over the Pacers, we do need a lot of things to be clicking.  Mostly, I'm looking for smart defensive rotations and aggressive offensive play from our backcourt.  I say Spurs by 5.

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