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Game On: New Orleans Pelicans @ San Antonio Spurs
What do you get when you cross a Pelican and a Spur? One angry bird!
A victory over the Spurs tonight would leave the Pelicans above .500 for the first time in their brief history, and would all but ensure that Monty gets at least a brief reprieve from the “hot seat” that so many fans have speculated he’s on. Following a three game winning streak the Pelicans confidence is high and they’re playing well. The last few minutes against the Cavaliers are likely the best stretch of ball we’ve seen all season, and the team will look to continue their success on the road tonight.
Unfortunately the opposition is a bit stiffer than we’ve been used to as of late. Still hungry following their epic loss in last year’s finals, the Spurs have been playing inspired ball. Despite Tim Duncan playing less than splendid, they’re the best team in the West, at least according to Matthew Tynan from 48 Minutes of Hell. He joined us to answer a few questions about tonight’s game.
2. What’s matter with Tim Duncan?
He’s just slumping. I’m convinced of it. He was actually quite good against the Cavs on Saturday, though he only played like 15 minutes in the blowout. He’s seemed awkward at times in terms of his shooting, like he’s hesitant and less than confident at times. But, physically, he looks great. I mean, the guy is 37 years old, so age is always a question. But he’s moving so well, and the Spurs are playing great defense. Those are the areas I’m more concerned with, and there hasn’t been any slippage in either capacity. So if you ask me, I’d say it’s just a slump. He deserves the benefit of the doubt regardless.
Yes. They’re elite on both sides of the ball — beating teams by 13.2 points per 100 possessions — and they’re getting unbelievable bench production. Seriously, their “stars” haven’t even found their rhythm yet and they’re just blowing people away. There’s something to be said about roster continuity and minimal offseason turnover, especially early in the season. But it’s like they picked up where they left off and have only gotten better. Just a heads up: Be prepared for the Patty Mills, Manu, Marco Belinelli, Boris Diaw (if he plays), Jeff Ayres lineup. It’s the Spurs’ third-most used lineup, and it’s putting up a 126.4 offensive-efficiency rating and a true-shooting percentage of 68 percent. It has arguably been the most impactful group through 13 games and is an absolute blast to watch.
4. What matchups will San Antonio try to exploit tonight?
Maybe this is a cop-out answer, but it really is this simple: The Spurs just do what they do, regardless of opponent. They adjust constantly. If the Pelicans put a bigger defender on Parker, he’ll run him through screens all night. If somehow Kawhi gets a smaller defender on him, he’ll take him to the block and post him up. Ginobili will run the show with the second unit regardless of who’s guarding him. Gregg Popovich has said on numerous occasions that he doesn’t watch film of the other team until much later in the season, as he’s only focused on what his own team can do better. So, it might be a boring answer, but it’s the truth. The Spurs won’t necessarily look to exploit any particular matchup. They’re just going to run their system, though they might try and stay away from that Anthony Davis guy.
5. Is Anthony Davis the best player on the floor? If not, who is?
Oh, speaking of that guy. Man, I love Anthony Davis. It’s only his second year in the league and he’s already putting up elite numbers (he’s already got a PER over 30, so that’s not fair). But if you put the Spurs’ and Pelicans’ rosters on a pick-up ball street court for just one game tomorrow night, I’d still pick Tony Parker first. He’s been as spectacular as ever, and he still has the ability to completely dictate the pace of a game, not to mention just take it over in the fourth quarter. Davis puts up wild numbers and is a spectacular presence all over the floor, but it hasn’t translated and impacted the team as a whole quite yet, if that makes sense. But the New Orleans offense is starting to figure things out and the defense will get there eventually. But for at least one more night, Tony Parker will be the best player on the floor.