The NBA is back -- pretty much. The start of preseason means we are ever so close to this highly anticipated year for the Spurs. San Antonio begins the preseason with a three game road trip starting in Sacramento on Thursday night against the Kings. Yup.. that means our first match up is against former Italian Spur, Marco Belinelli, who the Spurs lost to free agency back in July. Plus, to make it even more painful, Belinelli had a 32 point performance on Monday against Portland, in which he shot 12-18 and essentially rallied his team back for a come back win in overtime. Though he followed that by shooting 1-10 in the Kings' loss to the Suns on Wednesday night. Ultimately, we want to see Marco shine, even if he isn't wearing silver and black.
The Kings are really looking to get back on track this year. The franchise has been dysfunctional as of late. The team's relatively new coach George Karl, who was hired in February of last season, recently retracted the comments he made months ago suggesting that the team's star Center Demarcus Cousins was "tradable". Sacramento also made the somewhat questionable decision to bring in point guard Rajon Rondo, who had a disaster of a season last year with the Mavericks. Karl is reportedly looking forward to coaching him however, and both have high hopes for the season. There is nowhere to go but up for the Kings after finishing 29-53 last season.
Now, the Spurs, whether they like it or not, have put a lot of pressure on themselves going into this season. With the addition of LaMarcus Aldridge and David West, there are exceedingly high expectations for this team. Some have questioned whether LaMarcus can fit in with the Spurs' unselfish offense, whether the loss of Tiago Splitter will affect the Spurs' inside defense, and even simply if Tony Parker can play at a relatively high level consistently throughout the season. Likely none of those questions will be answered on Thursday night in Sacramento, but it will be good for this group to start playing together.
For the preseason opener, not only is Pop keeping Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Parker, and Boris Diaw home for rest, but coach Pop is in fact staying home himself. Aldridge and West will likely get a significant amount of playing time as they get accustomed to the Spurs' system, as well as the former King Ray McCallum. Unfortunately the game won't be televised, but you can listen on News Radio 1200 WOAI. Coverage begins at 8:00 pm on Thursday, October 8th, and tip-off is at 9:00 pm.
For the Kings' perspective, check out Sactown Royalty.