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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. New Orleans Pelicans

Separated by four spots but just a game-and-a-half in the standings, the two division rivals meet for the third time this season.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at San Antonio Spurs Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday night against the lottery-bound Orlando Magic, fans got a reminder of who the Spurs are. Hopefully, they reminded themselves.

On the second of their six-game homestand they face the same Pelicans squad they let one slip away against just 16 days ago. As you might recall, that’s when LaMarcus Aldridge sprained his ankle, allowing New Orleans to snatch what has proven to be a costly game in the final moments.

With the Nuggets taking a loss in Los Angeles last night, the four-way tie for the final two playoff spots is temporarily a three-way tie. That gives the Spurs no time to gather themselves, with the need to push forward and take on the first of several tougher opponents to come.

San Antonio Spurs (38-30) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (39-28)

March 15, 2018 | 7:30 pm CDT

Watch: FSSW; Listen: 1200 AM WOAI

Spurs injuries: Kawhi Leonard (quad- was believed to be today, but will return “when he is ready”)

Pelicans injuries: DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles- out for season), Alexis Ajinca (knee-out since surgery), Solomon Hill (hamstring- status undetermined), Frank Jackson (right foot- rehabbing)

Cowboys From Hell

Under the lights where we stand tall. Nobody touches us at all. Showdown, shootout, spread fear within, without. We’re gonna take what’s ours to have. -Phil Anselmo (Pantera)

Tonight these Texas outlaws need a redemption win. To be clear, they need like 7 redemption wins—one for each of the 4th quarter meltdowns obtained since the All-Star Break—but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. One game at a time.

The Spurs last hosted the Pelicans a mere two weeks ago when they were coming off the Rodeo Road Trip, poised to make a bold homecoming after sputtering out of the All-Star Break. They kept Anthony Davis to 26 points which may not sound significant, but keep in mind Davis was averaging 41 points per game since the All-Star Break at the time. Since then, The Brow’s missed a game due to a sprained ankle of his own.

As mentioned, Aldridge also missed a significant chunk of that game as well as two games since. He is crucial on the defensive end to challenge and contain Anthony Davis as well as to command double-teams on offense. His defensive rebounding will be essential to limiting the Pelican’s second-chance points.

Walking to New Orleans

I’m walkin’ to New Orleans. I’m gonna need two pair of shoes. When I get through walkin’ these blues. When I get back to New Orleans. -Fats Domino

That last outing also showed how well the Pelicans guards are playing. Jrue Holiday is having his best season overall and Rajon Rondo continues to pull of any feat necessary at the worst possible moment . . . if you’re a Spurs fan.

A Spurs win requires Dejounte Murray and Danny Green putting the clamps down on Rondo and Holiday. More of those long-arm Dejounte steals we saw against the Magic on Tuesday would be most beneficial.

You know what else might keep the Spurs in it? How about Gregg Popovich staying on the court for a full 48. Pop is still considered to be an elite coach and what he has done with this Spurs squad has been inexplicable. Losing his cool illustrates everyone’s frustration with the season, but what do you say we spread those technical fouls out a little further. So let’s send Alvin Gentry and Company back to The Big Easy empty-handed. A win tonight not only raises the Spurs a half game, but brings New Orleans down a half game and sets the stage for the final showdown on April 11th.

Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Cryin’

You can wail. Beat your little head on the pavement. Till the man comes and throws you in jail. Don’t let the sun catch you cryin’- Dr. John

As mentioned, 1 12 games separate the Pelicans from the Spurs. A win tonight for the Silver & Black puts only 12 game of separation between them. The Pelicans play the Rockets on Saturday and the Celtics on Sunday in a SEGABABA. In the meantime, the Spurs play an injured Timberwolves. There is ample opportunity for the Spurs to pass the Pelicans in the standings and build up their confidence before the host the Warriors (who they should have beat) for a final match-up.

In case this point hasn’t been hammered down enough, this is a must win for the Spurs to keep from watching the post-season from the comfort of their own homes. With three teams vying for two spots (and Denver still in position to make a run), the Spurs need to stay focused. With 2 games separating the 4th seed from the 9th seed, and plenty of head-on match-ups remaining, this season is nowhere near over.

I took my daughter to her first Spurs game Tuesday. If you are concerned about the Spurs, ask a pumped up four-year-old. Seeing them through her eyes made me rethink unnecessary doubting and nail-biting. Seasons come and go, Spurs are forever. That said, I’m cheering on the good guys at full throttle!


Vegas line: Spurs by 4.5.

Game prediction: Spurs by 7...teen.

For the Pelican’s 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