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PREGAME: Wizards vs. Spurs

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Regular Season Game 4

San Antonio (3-1) at Washington (2-1)

November 4, 2015 at 7:00 PM
Verizon Center, Washington, DC
TV: CSN Washington
Radio: 99.1FM


Last time they met was..

January 13, 2015 – Verizon Center, Washington – Wizards 101, Spurs 93
Tales from the Booth: Sights and sounds from Wizards – Spurs 1/14/2015


What to watch

The new look Spurs. A transition is taking place in San Antonio that goes beyond just the integration of LaMarcus Aldridge. For years, Tony Parker was the engine, but Tony Parker is clearly not the same Tony Parker. Enter Kawhi Leonard, the new engine of the Spurs offense. He’s the new center of crunch time sets, the new taker of big shots, and basically the guy who has allowed the Spurs to turn from this:

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Into this:

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Still, adding a 4-time All-Star, perennial 20-10 guy can change your look a little bit too. And early signs point to Aldridge fitting in smoothly sooner rather than later. In his first four games, Aldridge has had the following numbers:

    Game 1: 11 pts, 5 rebs, 12 FGA, 4 FTA
    Game 2: 10 pts, 11 rebs, 11 FGA, 0 FTA
    Game 3: 24 pts, 14 rebs, 18 FGA, 10 FTA
    Game 4: 19 pts, 6 rebs, 15 FGA, 4 FTA

I’d say he’s trending upward. Oh, and they also signed David West. And already have him playing the Tim Duncan screen setting role in one of the Spurs favorite plays (Look at Diaw blindly preparing to make the pass, and where Patty Mills is at the time. Simply Spursian). So there’s also that.


Key matchup

Kawhi Leonard vs. The World

Kawhi Leonard has silently taken it upon himself to destroy the rest of the basketball world. Here’s a little of what he did to Kevin Durant on opening night:

And remember this series clinching play against Russell Westbrook?

How bout this last season vs. the guy with the best handle in the NBA?

How about this Cameo in Toy Story?

Kawhi Leonard won’t win the MVP. His stats won’t be gaudy enough, nor will his personality (does he even have one??) be boisterous enough. Curry. LeBron. Wall. Harden. Durant. His competitors will all have better numbers when the season is over. But check their numbers against Kawhi. Check everyone’s numbers against Kawhi. Chances are, you’ll see a huge crater in the middle of an otherwise mountainous range of stats. So far he’s held KD to 6/17, Joe Johnson to 1/7, and Carmelo Anthony to 4/17. Remember when Bradley Beal said “Nobody can stop me. Plain and simple.” Well, we’re about to find out.


X-Factor

“The best backcourt in the NBA.” Kawhi may be able to guard Bradley Beal. He may even be able to guard John Wall. But he can’t guard both. So, if the guy Kawhi is guarding can’t shake loose, it will be the responsibility of the other guy to take over. If Kawhi starts on Beal, John Wall has to take over. If Kawhi makes a switch, Bradley has to take his turn taking over. If you need a template, look back a week to the Spurs only loss of the season. Kawhi held Durant to 6/19 shooting, but Westbrook shot 12/23, and went for 33 points and 10 assists. Beating the Spurs isn’t going to take one of the best point guards in the league, or one of the best 2-guards in the league. It’s going to take both.


Fun factor

Playing the Spurs. The greatness of sports lies in the competition. Sure, the execution, the strategy, the skill, that’s all great. But at the core, what drives the passion of great players, and what captures the raw passion and emotion of the fans is the competition. The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat. And there is no better test of basketball competition than the San Antonio Spurs. Yes, this will only be the fourth game of an 82 game season, but it’s the first of just two match-ups vs. the Spurs, one of the most respected, revered, and ruthless teams in the NBA. If you don’t think the Wizards players are hyped for this one, you don’t know athletes. They are hyped. And you should be too.


Predictions

Kawhi Leonard will loudly, boisterously, almost profanely let Bradley Beal know that indeed, someone CAN stop him. Without saying a word. Spurs win in Spursian fashion. Wizards fans are left still waiting for their first home win.

we are Hoop District

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