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Game Preview: New Orleans Pelicans vs. San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs are in search of their fourth straight win against the upstart Pelicans.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

After cruising to a spooky 30 point road win on Halloween night against the Phoenix Suns, the San Antonio Spurs return home, looking for their fourth straight win as they take on the New Orleans Pelicans.

November 3rd, 2018 | 7:30 CT

Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI

Pelicans (4-4) vs. Spurs (5-2)

Anytime the Spurs face the Pelicans, the conversation always comes around to Anthony Davis. Rightfully so, as he is one of the best big men that the league has seen in a long, long time.

At the time of writing, AD’s status on Saturday night is uncertain due to an elbow injury that has caused him to miss three out of the last four games. When he has played, he has been his usual self, averaging 25.2 points, 13.0 rebounds per contest so far. His play in the paint is a known quantity, but his ability to stretch the floor with his jump-shooting has evolved since he entered the league. When he plays, he is the head of the snake for New Orleans.

With Davis battling injury, first-year Pelican Julius Randle has made an indelible mark with his new team. Randle is coming off a season-high 29 points on 9-of-16 shooting in Thursday night’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. While Thursday’s 29 point performance is Randle’s season-best, he has been consistently outstanding. Randle is scoring 18.3 points on 54.2% shooting, along with 7.6 rebounds over the first eight games this season. Randle’s scoring average and shooting percentage are both career-bests—which will certainly be something to watch as the season progresses. Heading into the year, a large question that loomed over the Pelicans was whether or not they had enough offensive talent to replace DeMarcus Cousins. With Randle’s contributions, it’s going well so far, despite Anthony Davis missing time with injury.

If both Davis and Randle play on Saturday, post defense will be important for the Spurs to keep the game even. The interior tandem of talented Pelicans is one of the toughest post match-ups that San Antonio will face this year, and their inside-out offense makes it even more difficult to defend. The Spurs will likely mix in some double teams down on the block in addition to their traditional man-to-man defense throughout the game to try to limit AD and Randle’s inside dominance. The Spurs’ man-to-man defense just hasn’t been very good in the early part of the season, so Gregg Popovich will probably try to double team the block and hope that the Pelicans miss outside shots.

On offense the emphasis for the Spurs will continue to be scoring balance. DeMar DeRozan has been as good as advertised, if not better, since his arrival in San Antonio, putting up all-star numbers throughout the first three weeks of the season. DeRozan leads the Spurs in scoring at 27.9 points per game, but he’s not the only prolific scorer, six players on the roster are averaging 8.0 points per game or more (the others are Aldridge, Gay, Forbes, Belinelli, and Mills). While DeRozan is the team’s go-to guy in crunch time, every player that gets off the bench will have scoring opportunities against the Pelicans, who are currently near the bottom of the league in defensive rating. There should be plenty of open shots to go around on Saturday, and it will just be a matter of moving the ball around the perimeter and finding the right shot, which is something that the Spurs have shown that they know how to do.

Vegas Odds: Spurs by 5.5

Game Prediction: Spurs by 10

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

PtR’s Gamethread will be up this afternoon for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.