If you immediately bristle at the thought of facing the Pelicans three times in the last 21 games — with the Western Conference playoff race as tight as it is — there’s good reason. Just three years ago, New Orleans handed the Spurs an ill-fated L on the final game of the season, dropping them from second all the way to sixth place and leading to a first-round exit at the hands of the Clippers. Since then, it’s felt like the team has generally played better than its record whenever taking on the Silver and Black.
And what a time to catch them. New Orleans is on a six-game winning streak, and star big man Anthony Davis is pushing his game to entirely new heights. Yes, they’re without Boogie, lost for the year to an Achilles injury, but they did snag Nikola Mirotic before the trade deadline to provide some much-needed floor spacing. To boot: the Spurs could be more short-handed than usual themselves in the frontcourt, with Pau Gasol nursing a injured knee he tweaked against Cleveland.
San Antonio Spurs (36-25) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (34-26)
February 28, 2018 | 7:30 pm CDT
Watch: FSSW; Listen: 1200 AM WOAI
Spurs injuries: Kawhi Leonard (return from injury management), Manu Ginobili (sternum), Pau Gasol (knee)
Pelicans injuries: DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles), Solomon Hill (hamstring), Alexis Ajinca (knee), Frank Jackson (foot)
Brow about town
Since teammate DeMarcus Cousins went down, Davis has been on a tear. His numbers in the month of February have been video game-like: 35.9 points, 12.8 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, 2.6 steals. But never fear — Manu Ginobili is confident the Spurs defense will be able to contain him. Sorta.
Manu Ginobili has laid down the gauntlet. He said the Spurs feel pretty good about their chances of holding Anthony Davis under 50 points tomorrow.— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) February 27, 2018
No single player is going to contain Davis, but San Antonio is more disciplined defensively than any team he’s faced over his torrid stretch. He’s due to come (slightly) down from his scorching February levels, and the Spurs showed in their most recent win over the Cavs that they can still bury teams under a combination of execution and outside shooting. Which reminds me.
Making threes helps
Last season, the Spurs were the league’s best three-point shooting team at 39.1%. This year, they’re at 35.8%, good for 19th overall. Generating quality three-point looks for the right guys is an important part of the gameplan on any night, but against the Pels, with Davis’ wingspan forming a canopy around the painted area, making those shots will be even more crucial.
Hey, remember Emeka Okafor?
Until recently, the former second overall pick had been out of the league since April 2013. Now he’s not only signed with a team eyeing the postseason, but he’s starting on that team amid one of its best stretches in years. The NBA is chock-full of feel-good stories, and seeing Okafor back and playing well is definitely one of them.
Vegas line: Spurs by 5.5.
Game prediction: Spurs by 5.
For the Pelicans fans’ perspective, visit The Bird Writes.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher.
PtR’s GameThread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.