SAN ANTONIO — The Washington Wizards face another tough task on the back end of this two-game road trip, and tonight will take on the San Antonio Spurs.
San Antonio is 4-6 and going through some of the same struggles as the Wizards with injury and trying to fit new pieces together. But they get Tony Parker back and are favored to win by seven.
The Wizards will start Arenas, Miller, Butler, Jamison and Haywood. Yes, Miller is going to give it another go despite struggling mightily last night because of that sprained left shoulder. He had a plus-minus of -19, which was the worst on the team. But the Wizards continue to say that they’re not concerned about Miller further injuring his shoulder.
“They just tell me what he can do and we make decisions based on that. I think now and then he gets it jarred and a little sore, but I think he can fight through that,” Flip Saunders said of Miller.
Tonight’s game is a homecoming for Fabricio Oberto, who spent the first four years of his NBA career with the Spurs. He said that tonight was the first time that he had seen the visitors locker room here at AT&T Center.
Oberto, who returns to action after having missed the last two games with a tender left hamstring, had a busy evening leading up to the game, trying to catch up with former teammates and also get his pre-game work in.
The Spurs traded the 34-year-old Oberto to Milwaukee this past summer as part of the deal that brought in Richard Jefferson. Shortly there after, the Bucks shipped him to Detroit, who then waived him. Then the Wizards signed Oberto to provide an veteran big man with championship experience.
Oberto remains fond of the Spurs, whom he helped win the NBA Finals in 2007, but is looking forward to playing against them.
“It’s weird because I know all the players and we have relations. That’s the only thing,” the Argentinian said. “But after we start the game I’ll be cheering and playing as hard as I can for my team. Then after the game we’ll be talking some more and catching up on old times. Good memories for me. I had four great years for the team.”
But Oberto made it clear his focus is on helping the Wizards rebound into the ranks of the league contenders rather than dwell on the past.
“I’ll look back at it when I’m done with basketball. I’m just trying to look ahead,” he said. “We have a lot of things we need to improve on right now. But I try to bring what I learned here, from Europe and playing on the national team to help [the Wizards].”
Saunders said he’ll bring Oberto off the bench and match him up with his former teammate Tim Duncan, something Oberto is familiar with having gone up against him in practices for four straight years.
“He’s one of my favorite players. When I played here [in practice] I played against him and I think he’s one of the best players at his position ever,” said Oberto, who after coming to the District elected to wear No. 21 in honor of Duncan.
Duncan is aware of this and got a kick out of it, Oberto said.
“Yeah, I told him and he was laughing,” Oberto grinned. “We have good relations and spent a lot of time together.”