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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. New Orleans Pelicans

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Following Gregg Popovich's most recent Benchgate, the 2-2 Spurs return home to try and furrow the Brow and the upstart Pelicans in another inter-division showdown.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

San Antonio Spurs vs. New Orleans Pelicans

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
November 8, 2014, 7:30 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW, RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

It's experience against athleticism; the weathered old horse versus the spunky young colt; a prelude to the passing of the proverbial torch. That is, if Pop plays his guys tonight.

Anthony Davis isn't quite the Jimmy Macelroy to Tim Duncan's Chazz Michael Michaels, but the two former number-one picks still seem to share a common bond, even with contrasting body types, different paths to becoming franchise cornerstones, and 17 years of separation. Sure, one is so conscious of gravity that he's forced to get by on feel and leverage these days, while the other is almost immune to it, leaping and stretching his limbs beyond the curvature of the Earth. But now, at intersecting paths in their respective careers, Duncan and Davis are arguably the most transcendent big men of their respective generations, and there's something special in them merely sharing the floor together. They won't be matched up to start, but any instance of the two transcendent talents going head to head should be appreciated.

After a coming-out party in the FIBA World Cup, Davis continues to be a Category 5 force of nature, laying waste to any and all defenders in his path. His numbers early on this season are ridiculous, and include, among other out-of-this-world stats, a PER of 34.0. He's worth the price of admission alone.

The rest of the Pelicans starting lineup melds well together, at least on paper. Omer Asik complements Davis in the frontcourt by taking on more physical big men and providing another rim-protector and rebounder. Tyreke Evans is a slasher who can play the one, two or three and has started the year strong. Jrue Holiday gives them reliable playmaking and above-average defense. Eric Gordon is a guy they maxed out a few years ago, although he's failed to live up to the flashes of potential he exhibited on the Clippers. And this year couldn't have started worse for him.

Gordon, who ranks among the 25 highest paid players this year, is averaging less than six points and under an assist per game, to go with a negative PER. Even worse, one-time punch line Austin Rivers is outplaying him at his position, even supplanting Gordon at shooting guard to finish games this year -- a new low point in the career of a promising player who once burned me as a third-round pick in a fantasy draft.

The Pelicans remain competitive though, having split their first four games of the season. The two losses have been respectable (at Dallas and against Memphis), and the last win came against a solid Hornets squad. They can get out and run with the best of them, and it helps that Davis can outpace almost any other player at his position. Have a look at this play from earlier in the year (h/t Joseph Billiot at The Bird Writes):

The Pelicans' youth means that a (hopefully) crisper motion offense should lead to open looks on the perimeter for San Antonio. Danny Green and Marco Belinelli should get theirs, and Tony Parker's counter moves should spring him free of Holliday, as well. They can't do much worse than the 2 for 20 three-point shooting against Houston and, if the balls moves as it should, the Spurs should also see the best assist numbers of the early season.

I expect a bounce-back win for San Antonio as the team continues to look to find its rhythm. Pop's not all that bothered by the team's record this early on, but just as he circled the Rockets game as one he was willing to lose, the Pelicans game is as close to a must-win as you'll get in early November -- especially with a back-to-back at LAC and GSW to come. Even if Davis puts up his usual NBA 2K numbers, I think San Antonio improves to 3-2 tonight.

Matchup to watch: Boris Diaw vs. Ryan Anderson. I considered saying Duncan on Davis, but I'm not sure Pop will want to put Timmy in that position too often. With Tiago questionable, maybe Aron Baynes will get a second chance trying to contain a star big man, after volunteering himself for an entire year's worth of Dwight Howard posters on Thursday night. Meanwhile, Anderson gives the New Orleans bench its only true reliable scoring threat. He can bail out bad possessions with his three-point shot, and will be the only hope of the Pelicans not getting rolled when their starters sit. On the other end, Boris can take Anderson off the dribble and make plays happen for the rest of the second unit.

@

New Orleans Pelicans (2-2)

San Antonio Spurs (2-2)

November 8, 2014

AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas

7:30 PM CDT

TV: FSSW

Radio: WOAI 1200AM

Starters

Jrue Holiday

PG

Tony Parker

Eric Gordon

SG

Danny Green

Tyreke Evans

SF

Kawhi Leonard

Anthony Davis

PF

Tiago Splitter

Omer Asik

C

Tim Duncan


For the Pelicans' perspective, visit The Bird Writes.

Game prediction: Spurs by 8.

As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and you can get your San Antonio Spurs tickets from Daniel Farias with Spurs Sports & Entertainment: Tel: 210-444-5607 | dfarias@attcenter.com