The San Antonio Spurs travel to the Smoothie King Center for a game against the New Orleans Pelicans at 8:00 PM EST. The Spurs are coming off of the first half of a back-to-back after beating the Warriors by 12 at home last night. This is a traveling B2B for the Spurs, but San Antonio and New Orleans isn’t anything that has me too scared about that. The Pelicans have won 4 of their last five including their last win vs. Denver. Most of this good run has come as the team has adjusted to life without Elfrid Payton. The Pelicans were undefeated early in the season with Elf starting at the one before he got hurt. After he got hurt, there was some adjusting to be done where the Pelicans did struggle. Recently, though, Jrue Holiday and Anthony have become more involved in the offense including recently with back-to-back 40+ point games.
Spurs Looking Good This Year
The Spurs are a really interesting team this year with the addition of Demar DeRozan and the loss of Kawhi Leonard and Dejonte Murray for the season. The biggest thing that I have noticed with this team is their willingness to let the other team set the tempo. This Spurs team is not like the Spurs of the past that always slow the game down and play team defense. This team will play iso ball with Demar and LaMarcus Aldridge, but they are also willing to get out and run early and often. The strange thing is that team teams played earlier this month, and the pace was actually rather slow for the Pelicans standards. This was a game without Elfrid Payton, which slowed their pace a bit, but it was odd to see the Pelicans score less than 100 points in a game this season. The Pelicans did struggle from the 3-pt line, shooting under 30% and Anthony Davis only added 17 points in 40 minutes, something I expect to change rather drastically in this matchup.
The Spurs’ offense is clearly based on 2 players over everyone else with Rudy Gay as the clear third option. In these pace up spots, we have seen Demar DeRozan’s touches and assist numbers go way up. This offense is clearly willing to let Demar be the playmaker if they want to get out and run, which is still what I expect in this game. LMA had been very, very quiet until last night when he broke out with a great game against the Warriors, who he does normally do well against. I expect LMA to continue this trend, as he did give AD and Mirotic 22/12/6 in this early November matchup.
Pelicans Rely Heavily on Holiday and Davis
The Pelicans side also has recently been dominated by 2 players. Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis had seemed to struggle to adapt to life without Elfrid Payton at first, but they have gone back to last year’s team that really featured these 2. This regression back to the old Pelicans has seemed to hurt Mirotic and Randle slightly at times, as AD and Jrue are just getting more touches than they were earlier in the year. With that said, both Mirotic and Randle are going to have the opportunity to get going in the game against a pretty bad Spurs’ frontcourt defense. My favorite player to change the game tonight might be Jrue Holiday. Jrue has been good against DeRozan in the past, and I don’t think much has changed. Now, Jrue is even getting more ball-handling duties and more opportunities to shoot and get assists.
Pelicans vs. Spurs Prediction
The spread on this game is puzzling to me, as it seems a bit large. I think the Pelicans win a tight game here, but give me the Spurs and the 7 points after the confidence-building win over Golden State.