Dec 21, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) talks to guard Tony Parker (right) during the first half against the Oklahoma City Thunder at AT

Raps (11-14) @ San Antonio Spurs (21-6) - 3 keys to a third straight win?

The Toronto Raptors fly into San Antonio with a certain swagger in their step, courtesy of success in places (Dallas & Oklahoma City) where it’s been hard to come by. Winning against the mighty Spurs would truly be an achievement, but is now within the realm of serious discussion.

December 19, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Marco Belinelli (3) is congratulated after a play during the fourth quarter against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The Spurs defeated the Warriors 104-102. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio is the best organization in the NBA, and perhaps in all of North American professional sports. Spurs’ management knows how it wants to play basketball, and will only add those players who profoundly understand The Vision. You can play for coach Gregg Popovich if you:

  • know how to defend aggressively without fouling
  • move the ball on offense, in search of the open man who can…
  • …hit a high percentage of 3-balls

Oh, and check your ego at the door. “Pop” won’t stand for anyone putting individual goals (or Attitude) ahead of the team. Perhaps that’s why the Spurs have recharged the careers of other teams’ discards so often. Danny Green, Marco Belinelli, Boris Diaw – all of them have been tossed aside elsewhere, embraced the Spurs’ team-first concept, and been rewarded with prominent roles in a winning program.

Led by the west Texas version (Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli) of the Big Three, San Antonio will be cranky, having lost at home to OKC on Saturday night. The Raps won’t be able to surprise them, but might steal another victory if they can:

  • win the battle on the offensive boards. The Spurs are vulnerable to an active front court, as their best big (Duncan) averages only 28+ MPG [Minutes Per Game]. If I’m Dwane Casey, I use Jonas Valanciunas every minute the aging Duncan is on the bench. Apropos of that…
  • use their whole roster effectively. Play Spurs ball – substitute a lot, don’t be overly dependent on one or two scorers, minimize turnovers.
  • pay a lot of attention to Belinelli. He is their highest percentage maker of 3-pointers, and their ball-movement oriented offense creates lots of open looks for him.

While I’m dazzled by the Raps’ recent success, all good things must come to an end. The thumping the Raps took from the Spurs in Toronto on the 10th was to be expected, occurring as it did when the Rudy Gay trade had just taken place and the team was in a state of upheaval. This game will be much closer, but the Spurs will prevail 103-99.

Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.

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Tags: Marco Belinelli San Antonio Spurs Toronto Raptors

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