It’s gotten ugly fast for the Spurs in a tale of two teams after a hot start to the season. Unlike the promising squad San Antonio showcased at the start of the season, this flagging (and injured) version of the Spurs is already well into their second five-game losing streak.
Not unlike a Rolling Stones group photo, that version of this team has been hard to look at, leading the league in assists, but also in turnovers, and playing a brand of defense that would embarrass even the most elusive of professional matadors.
Sporting the worst net (and defensive) rating in the league, the Spurs are allowing an effective shooting percentage of 57.9 (also dead last) to their opponents and 21.9 points-per-game off of turnovers. It’s a trend that would be troubling against most teams but bodes particularly poorly against a New Orleans team that is fully healthy for the 1st time in several seasons.
The Pelicans are one of the best offensive teams in the league right now, sitting 4th in scoring and 5th in offensive rating, but they’ve also begun to put it together on the defensive end as well, pulling themselves into 6th in defensive rating over the last week or so.
That being said, there’s been some inconsistency on display as players and coaching staff are still trying to figure out how everything works together with the presence of a healthy Zion Williamson, losing games to the Pacers and the Trailblazers, while getting a brief scare from the visibly tanking Houston Rockets.
If the Spurs are to have any chance in this one, it’ll likely involve exploiting whatever confusion still exists as the Pelicans work to gel with their most prominent talent on the court. Here’s hoping they can, or the Spurs will have a new longest losing streak of the year only 19 games into the season.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. San Antonio Spurs
November 23rd, 2022 | 7:00 PM CT
Watch: Bally Sports Southwest| Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Zach Collins - Probable (Leg), Blake Wesley - Out (Knee), Romeo Langford - Out (Conditioning), Jakob Poeltl - Questionable (Knee), Josh Richardson - Doubtful (Ankle)
Pelicans Injuries: E.J. Liddell - Out (Knee), Trey Murphy III - Questionable (Foot)
What to watch for:
The Return of Zach Collins: If the Spurs are to have any chance against the lengthy Pelicans, they’ll likely need every big man on deck for this one. Especially if Jakob Poeltl is unable to go due to a balky knee. As impressive as Bassey has been in spurts, he still doesn’t have the same degree of offensive and defensive awareness as Collins. Not that that discredits his ability to already showcase some adjustment on the fly. But both Bassey and Collins offer different approaches for this team, each of which is needed. The Spurs are better with both big men in the fold, and Collins’ surprisingly early return would be a boon for a team that’s been getting thrashed as of late.
For the Pelicans’ fans’ perspective, visit The Bird Writes.
PtR’s Game thread 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.