Offensive rating: Spurs – 105.8 (4th), Hornets – 97.0 (28th)
Defensive rating: Spurs – 101.9 (17th), Hornets – 102.4 (18th)
Pace: Spurs – 94.3 (11th), Hornets – 90.9 (30th)
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Radio: WOAI-AM 1200, KCOR-AM 1350
Three things to watch
Pace. At 12-35, the Hornets are not a good team. Obviously. They play at a dawdling, tedious pace and they prefer their defense to lead them to wins. The Jack-Belinelli-Ariza-Ayon-Kaman epitomizes their philosophy of lulling the offense to sleep and preventing 3-pointers (4.6 per 100 possessions). Their defense is their only palatable asset. If the Hornets are allowed to dictate the pace and the Spurs aren’t knocking down their shots, this game could become really interesting. To their credit, the Hornets have made each game close. The Spurs margin of victory is a mere five points.
Spurs depth. With the Boris Diaw and impending Patrick Mills additions, the Spurs roster has the potential of going 12 deep. As a Spurs fan, I am positively loving this team, their youth and energy are infectious. And I bet Pop enjoys this roster too. He has so many options to work with and the potential of a roster that is so diverse under the tutelage of the best coach in the game leaves the Spurs with limitless opportunities. This should be really, really fun.
Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Just watch these guys, please. They both bring consistent energy on both sides of the court and their flexibility is invaluable. Green has made 1.6 3-pointers this month and 12 consecutive free throws. Kawhi is averaging 10.9 points and 6.1 rebounds this month and looks like a truly special player. His weakside cutting is unparalleled and his basketball IQ is very high. He never forces anything. Don’t forget his tough, fundamentally sound defense and his ability to guard 2s-through-4s defensively either. Can’t wait to witness his progression.
Final verdict. Spurs by eight. The Hornets are a pesky bunch and could make this game close. Don’t chalk me as one of their believers though.