Tonight we have a meeting of teams trending in opposite directions, or I guess in the Spurs' case, same ol' same ol'. The Spurs have won four straight, and in doing so have averaged 110.5 points per game while allowing only 94 from their opponents. The Pelicans on the other hand have lost five straight, and averaged 92.6 points per game while allowing 105.
The Spurs won the first meeting of the season between these division foes 112-93 in the Alamo City. Behind a 30-assist performance that included 65 points off the bench, San Antonio won easily -- and New Orleans was healthy back then.
The Pels lost to Dallas on Saturday night after the officials missed a call on a potential game-tying three by Austin Rivers, who didn't get the shot off after clearly being fouled by Monta Ellis. The league acknowledged this but that won't do much to lift New Orleans from what's been a pretty rough stretch as of late, with the injuries, the blown call, the Saints getting knocked out of the playoffs, and the losses piling up in a season that began with hopes of a playoff appearance. The chances of that happening are now slim, with John Hollinger's computer giving them a 2% shot at the postseason, and the Spurs 100%.
This time both teams are banged up, but as we saw in last night's no-sweat dismantling of the Pups, the Spurs are well-oiled and deep enough that missing a couple of key guys shouldn't matter much against all but the best competition.
New Orleans is missing their talented young point guard Jrue Holliday - out indefinitely with a stress fracture of his right tibia. Also missing for the Pels is their leading scorer, stretch-four extraordinaire Ryan Anderson, who has a herniated disk and could miss the rest of the season. And finally, Tyreke Evans is listed as day-to-day with an ankle injury. These three players have scored 40% of all of the Pelicans' points this season.
I really enjoy watching Anthony Davis play, so I'll be watching him closely. For all the hype around Kevin Love, I think that Davis has a good shot of becoming one of the league's best and leading a successful team. I don't think he'll put up the gaudy numbers of Love, but he can be a great two-way player, anchoring the D while being the first option on offense. He still has a ways to go, but he's improving and impressing after a rookie season hampered with injuries. Since returning almost a month ago from a broken finger he has put up 20.5 pts on 56% shooting, 10.5 reb, 1.2 steals, and 2.5 blocks per contest. His per is 26.4 and his win shares per-48 is .210. He also has his team's best defensive rating of 104, while the team DRTG is 110. So, he's good. He's also just 20 years old.
He's about the only thing interesting about the Pelicans right now. I guess wondering what the most ineffective lineup Monty will go with is mildly interesting. What I'm saying is that I expect the Spurs to come out with the appropriate energy, play their game and roll over a talented team that is decimated by injuries right now. I suppose there is the chance that the Spurs overlook the Pels and come out flat, but even so, I have a hard time seeing the Spurs losing this game. The good guys have been taking care of inferior teams, especially on the road, and I don't think that trend will change as we're approaching the halfway point of the grind of the regular season. This is where historically, the Spurs tend to fare well. January 13th, 2013 was the first win of an eleven-game win-streak.
At least we should get a healthy dose of the always-fun Foreign Legion tonight.
Key Bench Players
The perspective of Pelicans fans can be found here:
Game Prediction: Spurs by 14
The Opening line in Vegas: Spurs by 5 1/2
As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area. 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.
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