Originally posted on Project Spurs  |  Last updated 3/16/13
Tonight's matchup will be between Tim Duncan and Tristan Thompson when the Cleveland Cavaliers visit the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night. The Cleveland Cavaliers are coming off a disappointing loss to the Dallas Mavericks and will be looking to play spoiler to the Spurs' number one seed hopes tonight. Tristan Thompson played a starter low 30 minutes last night while contributing 12 points and 7 rebounds in those minutes. While the Spurs should be more rested than the Cavaliers, it's usually the athletic big men that give the San Antonio Spurs trouble, especially those who hustle around the court like Thompson. He'll be a big part of what the outcome is today and he may have to carry the load for his team since he'll be the freshest player out there for the starting five of the Cavaliers. What Duncan must do on offense: Tim Duncan shouldn't have much trouble scoring with the Cavaliers allowing more than 100ppg, even without MVP candidate Tony Parker on the court. With the Spurs' constant ball movement, it will open up Duncan for a shot or a post up. Duncan is shooting 67% (168-251) from the restricted area which isn't surprising for someone who has Duncan's touch around the rim. The most impressive statistic for Duncan may be his 43% (144-335) mid range shooting, which opens up the paint for his teammates and also for himself when players choose to jump and contest his shot. With Duncan's versatile game this season, he should have plenty of options on the offensive end and may also be able to motion on offense without pick and rolls with this Cleveland defense. What Duncan must do on offense: He has to put a body on Thompson to take away put backs or offensive rebounds. Thompson's game is close to the basket, where he's attempted no three point shots this season. He's shooting 57% (191-333) from the restricted area this season and after that the drop off is noticeable from other parts of the floor. He's shooting 40% (77-191) from the paint area. His mid range game is still raw at 33% (23-69), but don't be surprised if he tries more of the longer shots with the Spurs possibly collapsing in the paint. If Duncan can force him to beat the team with long jumpers, it'll be forcing Thompson to try to win with his weaknesses and beat the Spurs on their strength.
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