In an interconference battle, the San Antonio Spurs will travel to play the Philadelphia 76ers.
Entering the game, the Sixers have won two of three after dropping their previous five. One of those games happened to be a 109-86 blowout against the Spurs in San Antonio.
The Spurs have been a different story.
San Antonio has won four consecutive games and 13 of their past 16. On the season, they're 14-3 against the Eastern Conference.
The 76ers, meanwhile, have gone 8-11 against the West.
Although the paper tells a story of a blowout, this should be a tight affair. Both teams are hot and each have All-Stars leading their charge.
The question is, who will step up and take the victory?
Time: Monday, January 21, 2013, at 7 p.m. ET
Records: San Antonio Spurs (32-11, 14-9 Road) at Philadelphia 76ers (17-23, 11-9 Home)
Betting Line: San Antonio Spurs (-6)
Injury Report: Andrew Bynum, Out (Knee); Manu Ginobili, Out (Hamstring); Jason Richardson, Questionable (Knee)
Key Storyline: All-Star Almosts
When the San Antonio Spurs travel to play the Philadelphia 76ers, the key storyline will be the battle of All-Star contenders.
For the Eastern Conference, Philadelphia point guard Jrue Holiday is on the brink of superstardom. He's presently the only player in the NBA to average at least 19.0 points and 9.0 assists simultaneously.
Holiday presently sits at 19.4 points, 9.0 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. In his most recent outing, he went for 33 points and 14 assists against the Toronto Raptors.
Holiday also hit the game-tying shot with less than five minutes remaining.
As for the Western Conference, San Antonio point guard Tony Parker is on the cusp of making his fifth All-Star Game appearance. Although the competition is stiff, Parker is competing at a world-class level.
The former Finals MVP is averaging 19.7 points and 7.3 assists in just 32.6 minutes. He's also posting a slash line of .519/.417/.825.
Surprisingly, this isn't even our key matchup.
Key Matchup: Tim Duncan vs. Thaddeus Young
After all of that hype about near All-Stars, we go to the legendary Tim Duncan and underrated Thaddeus Young? Yes, yes we do.
And rightfully so.
At the age of 36, Duncan is playing at an MVP-caliber level. He's presently averaging 17.3 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.8 blocks per game.
Duncan also has a player efficiency rating of 24.63, which leads all power forwards.
Defending him will be Thaddeus Young, who has established himself as one of the most dynamic defenders in the NBA. He has the athleticism to play the perimeter and the length to work the interior.
Most importantly, Young is one of the game's elite pick-and-roll defenders.
Although he is completely average on the glass, Young can take over a game as well as any star. Due to his defensive prowess, one is inclined to believe that he could contain Duncan.
If that proves to be the case, the Sixers may just walk away with an upset victory. If Young is unable to stop Duncan, however, we will see more of the same.
Timmy goes to work, and the second unit does the rest.
X-Factor: Evan Turner, Philadelphia 76ers
Six separate players on the San Antonio Spurs average at least 1.0 three-point field-goal attempt and shoot 40.0 percent or better from beyond the arc. The Philadelphia 76ers rank 21st in the NBA by allowing opponents to shoot 36.4 percent from distance.
This places a severe level of pressure on starting small forward Evan Turner to step up as a perimeter defender.
Turner has performed well this season. He's posting career bests across the board at 13.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game.
With a three-point shooting percentage of 39.5, he's effectively replaced Andre Iguodala from an offensive perspective.
In order for the Sixers to succeed, however, Turner must step up as a defender. Upon doing so, he may be able to slow down the Spurs' sharpshooting perimeter players.
Who will win?
If he fails to, however, the Sixers will have sealed their fate.
When the Philadelphia 76ers host the San Antonio Spurs, we will see an 11-9 home team against a 14-9 road team. In other words, success by location is a virtual non-factor in this instance.
Revenge, however, will be key.
Jrue Holiday has a chance to make a major All-Star statement against Tony Parker. Coming off of a game in which he dropped 33 and 14, there's a good chance he does just that.
Just don't expect Parker to waste any time in countering his efforts.
Holiday and Parker will go at it in a duel for the ages. At the end of the day, however, the teams' supporting casts will decide this one.
Just don't think it'll happen without a fight.
Per Basketball-Reference, Parker and Holiday rank first and third in clutch field goals. That will be on full display in this battle.
Holiday will make his statement. The Spurs will make theirs.
San Antonio Spurs 99, Philadelphia 76ers 96