New Orleans continues its measured, unlikely slog towards .500 tonight against a San Antonio team heading out on its annual rodeo trip. The Pelicans dropped both previous meetings with the Spurs this year, though the second meeting in New Orleans was close until the final minutes.
The Spurs will miss a triumvirate of wings, with Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, and Danny Green all absent through injury. New Orleans, of course, retorts with three missing starters of its own, so bench and second-unit play will be crucial tonight.
Three keys to the game:
- Don't give the ball away. San Antonio really doesn't force that many turnovers; their defense isn't designed for it, and especially with the likes of Leonard and Green out, silly mistakes by the Pelicans will hand the Spurs an advantage they absolutely don't need. In their January meeting, New Orleans only coughed it up 9 times on 91 possessions (this without Jrue Holiday).
- Keep the pace down? Undecided on this, but it's worth noting that in their blowout loss to the Spurs in November, the game was played at a 105 possession pace, with a much slower 91 possession game in the January nail biter. San Antonio has thrived at high speed the past few years, but they're right at around league average this season; after reasonably paced beginnings, New Orleans has plummeted like a stone towards the bottom.
- Destroy Tim Duncan. It seems within the realm of possibility that new commissioner Adam Silver will be watching the Duncan-Anthony Davis matchup tonight as he decides on Kobe Bryant's replacement for the All-Star game. David underwhelmed in meeting 1 before turning it up last month.