Game Preview #1: New Orleans Hornets at San Antonio Spurs - The Quest Begins

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Oh yes, he did.

I'm so hyped up for the season that I started writing this in August... and then re-wrote the whole thing this week in Argentine. But then I was reminded that this is a family-friendly blog sometimes, and Wayne made me rewrite it again. Anyway... It's been a hell of a long offseason, but now it's time for some full-tilt "boring" Spurs basketball. But these aren't the Spurs you remember. This team is stacked, and it's time to see just how good they are.

The story of the season is obviously the quest for the franchise's 5th NBA Championship. Some of the moves that were made in the offseason were obviously big headline grabbing changes. But, we're not going to concentrate on the newbies today. I'll start things off by mentioning that there's a legendary big man trying to solidify his place among the players of his generation.

That's right, Matt Bonner wants himself another ring.

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cosplay?

Yes, Mattie now has something better to occupy his time than finding the best sandwich around. As long as he can make it rain, he gets to do whatever he wants in his down time.

Star-divide

We're changing things up a bit this year. If you weren't around for the preseason games, we're separating the game previews from the game threads, which will be posted closer to game time. We'll have a QuickCap after each game, and any brave soul who feels up to it can take on the responsibility of a more comprehensive recap.

Get Pumped

Preview

Disclaimer: The positional matchups below are based on who is the primary option, not who starts.

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New Orleans Hornets @ San Antonio Spurs
Where: AT&T Center - San Antonio, TX
When: October 28, 2009, 7:00 PM Spurs time
Watch: ESPN & KENS 5


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Details/Stats
0-0 Home 0-0
0-0 Road 0-0
0.0 Offense 0.0
0.0 Defense 0.0
0 FG% 0
0 3-pt% 0
0 FT% 0
0 Rebounds 0
0 TOs 0
0-0 Last 10 0-0
N/A Streak N/A
Location/Time Zone Game Time
Argentina 9:00 PM
Best Coast(Pacific)
5:00 PM
Philippines 8:00 AM
Central Europe 2:00 AM
Palestine/Egypt 2:00 AM
Least Coast(Eastern) 8:00PM
SiMA's Bomb Shelter
6:00 PM
Perth Australia 8:00 AM
Tokyo 9:00 AM
Sydney, Australia 11:00 AM

Spurs
(0-0)
Matchups

Hornets
(0-0)

Tony Parker
The Leader

Point Guard

Last year, Tony proved that he is one of the league's best point guards. There are really only two names that will consistently come before Parker when lists of those top point guards are made. Fortunately for New Orleans, they have the player widely considered to be the top point guard in the league - Chris Paul. But he's still a punk.

Advantage: Hornets


Chris Paul
The Franchise

Manu Ginobili
The Catalyst

Shooting Guard

Curiously, rookie Marcus Thornton made his way into the NOOCH's starting lineup during preseason. Given that the other options are Devin Brown and Morris Peterson, that's not incredibly surprising. He shot extremely well from 3-point range during preseason, and rebounds well for 6'4", but let's get real: this is the biggest mismatch on the floor tonight. NBA.com says Peterson will get the start, but Thornton is the biggest threat. Not that it matters - Manu's back, and he'll devour the NOOCHies the moment he enters the game.

Advantage: Spurs


Marcus Thornton
The Rookie

Richard Jefferson
The New Guy

Small Forward

Julian Wright also became a starter for the NOOCH during preseason. Perhaps Peja just sucks that much now, or maybe they just want him coming off the bench like Manu. The hell if I know what Byron Scott is thinking. Anyway, RJ wins this matchup no matter who he faces off against. Throw in Finley off the bench, and this is almost as much of a mismatch as SG.

Advantage: Spurs


Peja Stojakovic
The Choke Artist

Antonio McDyess
The Veteran

Power Forward

Look, I know David West was an all-star. But that was BS - if ever there was an overrated PF in this league, it's West. McDyess will be effective against him, but Bonner is probably starting. Dice off the bench is just as effective a mid-range shooter as West, so after Matty leaves the game this matchup is pretty well tied. This goes without even mentioning what The Beast is going to do if he gets on the court tonight.

Advantage: Hornets


David West
The Shooter

Tim Duncan
The Foundation

Center

The Hornets upgraded at center when they traded Tyson Chandler for Okafor. But it came with a price: Chandler was one of the most effective players in the league at guarding Duncan. However, Okafor will be a major upgrade for the NOOCH on the offensive end most nights, since he is capable of more than just throwing down alleyoops. Timmeh is still good enough defensively to neutralize him, and will make Emeka look silly when he gets the ball down low.

Advantage: Spurs


Emeka Okafor
The Sidekick

Roger Mason
The Shooter

Bench & Role Players

Roger is back, and will again be among the top snipers in the league if all goes according to plan. George Hill, Michael Finley, Matt Bonner, and Dejuan Blair give us one of the most insanely good benches in the league. For the Hornets, Posey is a guy who is quietly effective at both ends of the floor. Mo Peterson, Julian Wright, Darius Songaila, and the dangerous rookie tandem of Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton are enough to keep the Spurs bench busy and focused.

Advantage: Spurs


James Posey
The Defender

Gregg Popovich
Bearded Sage

Coach

Bryon is a great X's and O's guy, and has an incredible ability to get the most out of his point guards. But that's about it, and the players usually start to hate him at some point. Pop always keeps things in balance, and knows how to make sure that the team's collective psyche is in the right place.

Advantage: Spurs


Byron Scott
Player-Hated
images via yahoo.com

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Other Factors

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Intangibles

The crowd is going to be going CRAZY for this season to start. That, and the Spurs are still the smartest team in the league. Advantage: Spurs

Mojo

One has to think that trading Rasual Butler away for a PEZ dispenser was a downer for the Hornets. And this new-look Spurs team is going to come out energized. Advantage: Spurs

Winner

It's time to hit the ground running, and I get the feeling the Spurs want this one pretty bad. Spurs by 12.


Keys To The Game

  • Moving Without the Ball - The Hornets historically try to beat us by packing the paint and forcing us to shoot jumpers. The Spurs' tendency to play in slow, methodical offensive sets, with some guys just standing still on offense, plays right into their hands. We need to have lots of movement away from the ball - let's confuse the hell out of them. The additions of Jefferson and McDyess are extremely helpful to us in this regard.
  • Be The Aggressor - The first point ties into this somewhat as well, but the Spurs need to attack the paint relentlessly tonight. I want the Hornets to have the infamous deer-in-the-headlights look by the middle of the first quarter. Also, CP3 is a player who allows himself to be affected by the unquantifiable perception of "momentum". The more relentless the attack, the less hope Paul will feel he has.
  • Bench Play - This was briefly mentioned above: the Hornets' bench is actually pretty strong. We can't let them have any hope, though. A steady dose of George Hill, Dejuan Blair and long-range shooting from the likes of Bonner and Finley will help put this game away.

Last Time They Met

The Spurs last played the Hornets in the final game of the 2008-09 regular season, winning in overtime after being down 7 in the final minute. How on earth did our guys manage to send it to OT, you ask?

Some Other Reading

Hornets

At The Hive - The Hornets SBN blog, with a lot of good information. It was pretty depressing over there during the summer, but I think they're pretty hyped up for the season now.
Hornets 24/7 - This is the TrueHoop network blog for the Hornets. It's a good read - one of the better THN blogs not related to the Spurs.

Spurs

48 Minutes of Hell: Speaking of THN blogs, we're extremely lucky that the best one is dedicated to the Spurs. Tim and Graydon always do an excellent job of breaking down everything that's happening in the Spurs' organization.
Project Spurs: Good independent blog with lots of good content. Spurs fans are lucky to have so many good blogs out there.

Spurs on Twitter

manuginobili I watched the 1st 2 HEB commercials... u guys r gonna love 'em. Fun stuff. Airing soon. I'll post them as soon as I can.

spurs Breaking news from Spurs practice. Pop is now beardless. That is all. http://twitpic.com/n31xb

DeJuan45 i am excited about the start of the season!! feel like a kid on Christmas eve, i can't sleep!!

Some Other Viewing

From the Express-News:

Other things of possible interest

Where to Tune In

TV

This game will be aired nationwide on ESPN, and in the San Antonio area it will also be on KENS 5.

Online

No League Pass for this game, but it should also be on ESPN 360, if your ISP provides access to it.

Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate. In fact, nobody can stop you from googling "atdhe". You can also shoot an email to dmenendez@gmail.com for more assistance.

Spurs League Pass audio is still free this year, so check it out.

Radio

If you're in the San Antonio area and aren't near a TV, tune in to WOAI (1200 AM).

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