San Antonio Spurs Spurs-Cavaliers Preview
By TAYLOR BECHTOLD
Posted Mar 03 2014 1:33PM
Although they've found ways to win when short-handed, the San Antonio Spurs are hoping to reel off a lengthy winning streak now that they have all their key pieces back.
After looking sharp in his return, Tony Parker will try to stay hot against a team that hasn't beaten San Antonio in nearly four years.
The visiting Spurs seek their fourth straight victory overall and ninth in a row over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night.
Parker appeared to be refreshed Sunday after a six-game absence due to a series of lower-body maladies. He finished with 22 points and seven assists while hitting 10 of 15 shots in a 112-106 home win over Dallas.
The six-time All-Star, averaging a team-high 17.8 points, had scored just 8.0 per game on 37.0 percent shooting in his previous three before getting the extended break from coach Gregg Popovich.
"Pop, I trust his judgment," Parker said. "I didn't want to admit it to myself. But maybe I was tired mentally. It's a lot of basketball the last three years with no break."
Tim Duncan contributed 17 points and nine rebounds, while Kawhi Leonard had 16 points as the Spurs (43-16) completed a sweep of their three-game homestand.
San Antonio shot 53.7 percent en route to a 120-110 victory over Detroit on Wednesday before limiting Charlotte to 36.7 percent shooting in a 92-82 win Friday.
Despite missing their top four scorers for various stretches, the Spurs are just 1 1/2 games behind Oklahoma City for the top seed in the Western Conference.
"It's very important for us to be healthy, to start feeling confident, to start playing with each other again over the last stretch of the season," said Manu Ginobili, who scored at least 15 in three straight games.
Parker has averaged 23.3 points while shooting 61.7 percent in his last four regular-season games in Cleveland, though he's also missed three of the last seven meetings there due to rest or injury.
In the most recent matchup at Quicken Loans Arena, Parker led the way with 24 points and Kawhi Leonard sank the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left in a 96-95 victory Feb. 13, 2013.
Cleveland's Kyrie Irving managed just six points on 2-of-15 shooting in that contest, and struggled again with 15 and four assists in a 126-96 loss at San Antonio on Nov. 23.
Danny Green, a second-round pick by the Cavaliers (24-37) in 2009, hit five 3-pointers on the way to a game-high 17 points to help the Spurs set season highs with a 57.5 field-goal percentage and 16 3s.
Cleveland has played its last six games without Anderson Varejao (sore back), Dion Waiters (knee) and C.J. Miles (ankle), yet found itself halfway to a third straight win Saturday at Memphis with a 65-54 halftime lead. But the Cavaliers fell apart after halftime, scoring just 31 points in the final 24 minutes in a 110-96 loss.
Irving had 15 of his 28 in the second half.
"There were positives from it," said Irving, who has averaged 26.7 points in his last three games. "We fought hard to the end with the exception of the last three minutes. We can live with the effort."
Waiters expects to return Tuesday while Varejao is doubtful and Miles remains out for the Cavaliers, who are 3 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot.
Cleveland has dropped eight straight meetings with San Antonio by an average of 15.9 points, though two of the last three have been decided by six points or fewer.