Game On: Spurs @ Pelicans

Tonight, the depleted Spurs come to town to take on the depleted Pelicans in a battle of stars and benches. The list of inactive players is a long one: Jrue Holiday, Manu Ginobili, Ryan Anderson, Kawhi Leonard, and Jason Smith. Fortunately for San Antonio, starting center Tiago Splitter returned from injury on Saturday night, though he only played 17 minutes (expect that total to grow tonight), and Danny Green will return tonight.  It has been only about three weeks since the Spurs last came to down, taking down the short-handed Pelicans 101-95. Looking at what San Antonio does and does not do well, not much has changed since that last match-up with New Orleans, so feel free to refer to my last recap here. That being said, the focus points for the Pelicans have changed as a result of the Spurs’ new injury concerns.

Keys to Victory

  1. Contain. Tony. Parker. In the two teams’ last meeting, Parker got into the paint at will, finishing with 27 points on only 15 shots and creating rotational chaos for the Pelicans defensively. Obviously, he is one of the best players in the NBA at doing this, but any sort of even mildly successful attempt to disrupt his rhythm will go a long way, especially with the Spurs’ current injury woes.
  2. Positioning ≠ rebounding. Boxing your man out = rebounds. San Antonio is typically pretty apathetic when it comes to crashing the offensive glass, but New Orleans big men tend to have a habit of assuming that being closer to the rim than your man is enough to get any rebound they want. Suffice it to say that doing so isn’t always enough, especially against a team as well-coached as the Spurs. Find a opposing body, box him out, and rebounding becomes so much easier.
  3. Stop fouling everyone. The Pelicans simply cannot let one of the Spurs’ very few weaknesses become a strength, which is exactly what will happen if they allow San Antonio to get into the bonus early. The Spurs don’t draw many fouls at all, so don’t gift them opportunities at the charity stripe.

Player to Watch

Tyreke Evans. With Kawhi and Manu both out, the Spurs have limited options to defend the wing positions. Fortunately for them, Aminu usually is not worth paying much attention to offensively, but Evans is a different story. San Antonio will likely rely on a tandem of Danny Green and Marco Belinelli, and as a result, Evans could have a relatively big game.

Enjoy the game!

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