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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. New Orleans Pelicans

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The Spurs' home opener is a meeting of two of the NBA's brightest young stars. But how great does the Pelicans' Anthony Davis have to be for them to win in San Antonio tonight?

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Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs vs New Orleans Pelicans

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
Date: 10/29/16, Time: 7:00 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis have had two of the hottest starts to the 2016-17 season. Davis followed up a 50-point, stat-stuffing debut with a 45-point, 17-rebound performance last night against the Warriors. Meanwhile, Leonard is the first NBA player in 37 years to eclipse 65 points and 10 steals in his first two games, having leveled up his ability to completely take over games with the ball in his hands. The big reason why one is 2-0 and the other isn't is the supporting casts behind them.

Meet the New Juice, Same as the Old Juice

Even with Danny Green out and getting ho-hum showings from Tony Parker and Pau Gasol, the Spurs have looked strong, thanks in great part to their depth. It's early, obviously, but the second-most-used lineup so far (14 total minutes, behind only the starting five's 28 minutes) has been spectacular. With Patty Mills, Jonathon Simmons, David Lee, Dewayne Dedmon and Manu Ginobili on the floor, the team's put up stupidly unsustainable numbers (148.3 Off Rtg and 75.1 Def Rtg). The case has been made for Simmons to start over Anderson while Green is out, but this would seem like reason enough to keep the rotations as they are.

The lineup seems to work for a number of reasons. There's a rim protector in Dedmon, who should only get more comfortable in the Spurs' system as time goes by; shooting and playmaking on the perimeter; plenty of off-ball movement, and a big man in Lee who's looked like a decent-enough facsimile of Boris Diaw at times. There's also a 39-year-old shooting guard named Manu Ginobili still making things happen.

Danny Green's return will affect some rotations, and there's no way this lineup remains as dominant as it's been, but there's real chemistry here that goes back to the preseason. I think there's a reason Pop's turned to this group so much so far and I imagine we see a good amount of it tonight.

Not enough help for Davis

Davis doesn't have the same luxury Kawhi does of stepping off the floor and watching his team steal or build on a lead. He's averaging 40.5 minutes through two games, while being asked to do a lot of everything. The team lacks outside shooting, and its spacing issues make getting the ball to him difficult at times, especially when Asik or Alexis Ajinca are on the floor.

Asik only played eight minutes last night. That could be because things weren't working with him against Golden State, or it could be because Gentry was saving him to bang against San Antonio's bigs tonight.

There have been some bright spots for New Orleans (Tim Frazier has exceeded expectations filling in for Jrue Holiday, while Terrence Jones and Lance Stephenson look like they may be able to have bounce-back years), but this is, in general, a bad Pelicans roster.

Pelicans fatigue?

New Orleans went the distance against the Warriors last night in a loss that required Davis giving a lot. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a comedown tonight, in front of a raucous AT&T Center crowd. If the Spurs get up big early, it would make sense for Gentry to shut down his franchise player in an effort to preserve his health.

The Pelicans have stolen a handful of regular-season games from San Antonio over the years, and Davis has been a big part of that. He's looked great thus far this year, but it'd take another superhuman performance out of him, plus another guy or two to step up. I don't think it happens.

vs

San Antonio Spurs

(Record: 2-0)

New Orleans Pelicans

(Record: 0-2)

October 29, 2016

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

7:00 PM CDT

TV: FSSW

Starters

Tony Parker

PG

Tim Frazier

Kyle Anderson

SG

E'Twaun Moore

Kawhi Leonard

SF

Solomon Hill

LaMarcus Aldridge

PF

Anthony Davis

Pau Gasol

C

Omer Asik

Vegas line: Spurs by 13.5.

Game prediction: Spurs by 15.

For the Pelicans fans' perspective, visit The Bird Writes.

As always Tony must dominate Fisher.

As always, PtR's Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. But if you're not able to log in here, you can try the Fanvana app which helps connect sports fans and was created by a fellow Spurs fan. Check out the free app on iOS or Android to discover other Spurs fans and join the live chatter for tonight's game. You can follow PtR's tweet stream directly on Fanvana as the game unfolds.