Where: AT&T Center; San Antonio, Texas
When: 8:30 p.m. EST
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
The Charlotte Hornets travel to San Antonio tonight to take the 4-4 Spurs. The Spurs, currently led by LaMarcus Aldridge, will be fresh off an hard-fought loss against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night, and Charlotte will hope to capitalize on any back-to-back fatigue.
The Spurs have managed to manufacture wins in their own frustrating, Spurs-y way this season, even without Kawhi Leonard. Aldridge looks like an All-Star again, Danny Green is suddenly an off-the-dribble threat, and Brandon Paul is providing quality bench minutes after struggling to make a roster for the last five years. Spurs gonna Spurs.
The Hornets will look to put San Antonio below .500 for the first time since 1929 (don’t fact check that), and they’re best chance of doing so will be to neutralize Aldridge’s scoring. If he can be contained, the Spurs will seriously struggle to score, and Charlotte will have no trouble getting the win.
Consequently, Dwight Howard will be a big factor tonight. If he can at least make Aldridge work for every shot and then bully him on the other end while grabbing every rebound in sight, that should tip the scales in Charlotte’s favor.
From what we’ve seen so far, it’s reasonable to think Howard can accomplish this. Per Cleaning the Glass, Charlotte is allowing the eighth lowest field goal percentage at the rim so far this season and the second lowest percentage from the midrange. That’s where Aldridge lives, so if things stay the same he should be in for a rough night.
On the offensive end, Kemba Walker will likely have to shoulder a heavy scoring load once again. I’m skeptical Malik Monk will be able to pull out another performance like the one against Milwaukee, especially with Brandon Paul being a pleasant defensive surprise for San Antonio.
The Spurs have been an excellent rebounding team through the first eight games, ranking third in offensive rebound percentage and first in defensive rebound percentage (again, per Cleaning the Glass, which I assume you subscribed to during the last two paragraphs).
It should be a rousing battle of the boards tonight, and we all know there’s nothing flashier than watching solid boxouts and guys using their rears to their advantage. We miss you, Boris Diaw.
I like Charlotte’s chances tonight. They’re riding a wave of good momentum, and they didn’t play the Warriors last night, which feels like a solid advantage. That said, the Spurs will execute flawlessly and pounce on every opening, so I could easily be wrong.
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