Preview: San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Pelicans – Game #18

The San Antonio Spurs (9-8) travel to New Orleans to take on the Pelicans in the second game of a back-to-back. In the first leg, the Spurs defeated the Washington Wizards by a final score of 121-101. Patty Mills led the way with 21 points and Dejounte Murray posted his second triple-double of the season.

The Spurs will have revenge on their mind tonight when they take on the Pelicans. New Orleans handed San Antonio their first loss of the season back on Dec. 27. Since losing that road game, the Spurs have won six of their last eight games away from the AT&T Center.

Both the Spurs and the Pelicans, who have a record of 5-10, have struggled a bit at home. San Antonio is 3-5 at home, while New Orleans is 2-3 at home and have actually lost three straight. 

San Antonio Spurs Injury Updates

The Spurs are now as healthy as they’ve been all season. Drew Eubanks, who has been sidelined for approximately three weeks due to COVID-19 protocols, is no longer on the injury report. Quinndary Weatherspoon, who hasn’t played after undergoing offseason surgery on his left knee, is also available. The only player who remains out is Derrick White, as he’s still recovering from a fractured second toe.

Murray twisted his ankle in the loss to the Dallas Mavericks two games ago but his triple-double was proof that he was ready to play last night. Considering the back-to-back, there’s a chance that head coach Gregg Popovich could limit Murray’s minutes. After the game, the point guard said his ankle wasn’t 100% but that he didn’t think about the injury during the game.

Yesterday’s 20-point victory should help the Spurs in terms of being fresh for tonight’s contest. No one played more than 31 minutes. DeMar DeRozan, who came into the game averaging approximately 34 minutes, played only 27 minutes against the Wizards. 

Zion Williamson Heating Up

After a relatively pedestrian start to the season, second-year phenom Zion Williamson is now once again producing at a high clip. In his last four games, the 20-year-old is averaging 27.3 points on 65.6% shooting from the field and 80% shooting at the free throw line.

Back in their first matchup of the season, the Spurs held Williamson to 18 points on 7-for-22 shooting from the floor. Keldon Johnson deserved much of the credit for keeping Williamson in check that night. However, it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect the Spurs to have that much success again tonight, especially with the way Williamson has been playing as of late.

Spurs at Pelicans: How the Spurs Can Win

The Pelicans are a bigger, stronger team than the Spurs. For San Antonio to give themselves a chance to win their second straight game, they’ll need to fight to limit New Orleans’ offensive rebounds. The Pelicans are currently the fourth best offensive rebounding team in the league. The Spurs, despite playing small lineups all season, are the eighth best defensive rebounding team in the league. If San Antonio can control the defensive glass, they have a good chance of notching a victory.