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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Pelicans

The Spurs will try to get their second win in a row in the Rodeo Road Trip when they visit New Orleans to face a direct rival for a play-in spot.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

After a big win over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, the Spurs will look to continue on the winning track with a visit to a direct competitor for a play-in spot in the West. The Pelicans currently have the 10th best record in the conference and made a big addition at the deadline by trading for CJ McCollum, which shows making the playoffs is their goal. It’s exactly the type of game the Silver and Black has to win in order to have a chance to climb up the standings.

The Spurs won’t have two of their additions available, since Josh Richardson and Romeo Langford are back in San Antonio, but they will have Tomas Satoransky on their bench, as the guard will join the team for the matchup against his old club. The Silver and Black did well while shorthanded and Satoransky is probably on the outside of the rotation looking in, but since it will be the second game of a back-to-back, we might see a new Spur make his debut.

San Antonio Spurs (21-35) @ New Orleans Pelicans (22-33)

February 12, 2022 | 6:00 PM CT

Watch: Bally Sports Southwest | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: Joe Wieskamp (Out — Two Way), Devontae Cacok (Out — Two Way), Goran Dragic (Out — Not With Team), Josh Richardson (Out — Not With Team), Romeo Langford (Out — Not With Team)

Pelicans Injuries: Zion Williamson (Out - Foot), Larry Nance Jr. (Out - Knee), Kira Lewis (Out - Knee),

What to watch for

  • The McCollum factor. McCollum made his debut for the Pelicans with a 15-point game against the Heat, but he was extremely inefficient, as it took him 21 shots to get there. It’s completely understandable for a player who joins a new team to struggle a little, but New Orleans surely wants more from their big addition. It’s too early to claim there will be pressure on McCollum to perform, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him be aggressive to try to find his rhythm. Making sure that he doesn’t get in a groove early should be a priority for San Antonio. With Derrick White gone, Devin Vassell will likely be tasked with guarding him, and if he has success in containing him, that could go a long way towards keeping the Pelicans’ offense in check. They have other weapons, like Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas, but they are counting on McCollum to give them an extra boost. It will be on the Spurs to stop him from doing that.
  • The offensive rebounding battle could be a major factor. The Pelicans are one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the league while the Spurs are among the worst at securing opponent misses. Both Jonas Valanciunas and Willy Hernangomez, who is just returning from health and safety protocols, are among the best in the league at crashing the boards, so San Antonio will have to keep them off the glass as a team. The Pelicans sometimes go big with Jaxson Hayes at power forward, so there might be a size difference to consider as well. On the other hand, Jakob Poeltl is also an elite offensive rebounder, so the Pelican bigs will have to deal with him on the boards as well. The battle inside should be fun to watch and could have a big impact on who comes out on top.
  • The bench needs to provide some offense. With Devin Vassell now starting and Richardson still not with the team, the Spurs suddenly find themselves without much of an offensive punch from the bench. Lonnie Walker IV is in a major slump. After a strong game against the Suns, he’s had four bad performances in a row in which he’s averaged five points. Josh Primo had a good showing against the Hawks, but he’s understandably inconsistent. Tre Jones thrives on the break, but can struggle to create in the half court. Zach Collins is still finding his form after missing an entire season. Those four combined for just 22 points against Atlanta. Hopefully the bench will be able to provide more on offense than they did against the Hawks and give the team an edge on the second night of a back-to-back.

For the opponent’s perspective, visit The Bird Writes.

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.