The Spurs surprised everyone including myself as they showed everyone they mean business by defeating Golden State 129-100. Kawhi Leonard has been on a tear, showing flashes of Kobe Bryant in his game and a newfound confidence that is making him a frontrunner for the MVP this season. The Spurs are 4-0 and face the Utah Jazz twice this week, and they finish off at home against the LA Clippers Saturday.
Tuesday, 1 November 2016 at 08:30 PM ET Home
San Antonio squares off against Utah at home on Tuesday. The Jazz face some critical injuries to Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks so we will have to wait until mid-season to see a terrifying Jazz squad. Former Spur Boris Diaw has been starting for the Jazz as Derrick Favors has been coming off of an IT band and bruised knee injury. Favors’ debut against the Lakers showed promise as he scored 15 points and grabbed 9 rebounds, and should continue to see extended play against the Spurs as Diaw is playing subpar. Despite injuries, the Jazz have a fierce interior presence in Rudy Gobert, so players such as Tony Parker will have a difficult time slashing to the basket like he did on opening night at the Oracle. Along with Gobert, former Spur George Hill has a great ability to orchestrate the Jazz offense despite limited talent. Joe Johnson appears to be playing the SF position in place of Hayward, and while he is capable of producing, Kawhi should be able to manage the veteran on the offensive end. The Jazz lack a competitive bench currently, as Exum is still experiencing some growing pains coming off of injury, so we should expect San Antonio to do some serious damage when the starters take a break.
Friday, 4 November 2016 at 09:00 PM ET Away
The Jazz play The Spurs again, and we will see more or less of the same matchup struggles except with some different lineups coming from either team. Popovich and Snyder are competent enough to not play the same hand twice, so much of what happens this game is dependent on the previous game (obviously). Yes, we will still see Joe Johnson get shut down by Kawhi, we will still see Gobert destroy everyone in the paint, and we will see Boris Diaw in a Jazz jersey again, but we should expect to see some significant adjustments on the Jazz team. Favors will likely get a heavier dose of minutes to diminish the effects of LaMarcus Aldridge on the floor this game, and Diaw will be sitting on the bench providing some veteran towel waving as he is 1/11 on field goal attempts in 68 minutes.
Los Angeles Clippers
Saturday, 5 November 2016 at 08:30 PM ET Home
The Clippers and Spurs provide some of the best games of the NBA season. Depending on who you ask, Chris Paul is the greatest point guard in the league, Blake Griffin is an absolute freak of nature and Deandre Jordan is one the best centers in the league today. The three of them have been together over the last six years, and although they have seen glimpses of success, they have yet to appear in the Western Conference finals, and they may just see the Spurs there this summer.
With the likes of JJ Redick alongside the three all-stars, the Clippers can be an absolute nightmare for any team, but just like the Jazz, the Clippers do not have a superior bench. Austin Rivers has shown he can get buckets, but he hasn’t shown much consistency that can allow the Clippers to maintain momentum while Paul takes a rest. Jamal Crawford falls into the same boat but on an extreme level where he can be game’s leading scorer or the game’s worst performer. The Clippers have acquired Mo Speights and Raymond Felton to fill in some gaps, and they can be formidable in the right doses, but the defense does not match the same intensity as the starters. As any previous Spurs and Clippers matchup, the game is dependent on if the San Antonio bench comes out to play, or if the big three in LA absolutely run show on the San Antonio starting five. Tony Parker continues to look lost against elite guards and Paul is no exception despite his age. JJ Redick can make Kyle Andersen get lost in a valley of hard screens as well, getting open looks and easy threes. With Pau Gasol playing the five-spot, we can expect a whole lot lobs to Deandre Jordan, so Popovich will likely play Dedmon to compensate if things go awry in that realm. Kawhi Leonard will thrive in this game as the SF position for the Clippers is the weakest link with either Wes Johnson or Luc Mbah a Moute facing him, but the most interesting showdown will be between Aldridge and Griffin. Both are capable of defending one another, but Griffin has the edge in the athletic department. Aldridge's fadeaways are incredibly hard to defend, and Griffin's powerful strides can push back the strongest of big men. A significant portion of Blake's ability on offense is dependent on Paul, so if Aldridge is going to have an edge this game, it will be up to Patty Mills or Tony Parker to mitigate Paul's assist total. This game will have to have everyone on either side playing in unison, and this may just be a preview of what's to come in the playoffs this year. We should expect one of the best games of the year to happen this Saturday, so be sure to tune into this game at least if you aren't going to watch back to back Jazz games.