Preview: San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Pelicans – Game #31

The San Antonio Spurs (10-20) take on the New Orleans Pelicans (18-12) on the road. This is the third time these two teams have played this season. The Pelicans won the two previous games, which were both played in San Antonio.

New Orleans had climbed to the top of the Western Conference with a record of 18-8 but they’ve since lost four straight games. The Pelicans lost to the Utah Jazz twice, the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks.

In San Antonio’s latest outing, they defeated the Houston Rockets by a final count of 124-105. The Spurs, who were playing without leading scorer Keldon Johnson,  got 26 points, five assists and four rebounds from Devin Vassell. Additionally, five players off the bench scored in double figures (see the Grades).

Entering tonight’s affair, the Pelicans have the third best record in the West and the Spurs have the second to worst record in the West.

San Antonio Spurs Injury Update

For the second straight game, the Spurs will be playing without Keldon Johnson. He’s missing the game against the Pelicans due to right hamstring tightness. Also out for tonight are Dominic Barlow and Blake Wesley, who have been playing with the Austin Spurs as of late.

The Spurs got some good news on the injury front. Josh Richardson is back with the team after missing the last two games due to personal reasons. Jakob Poeltl and Romeo Langford were listed as probable yesterday but they are both available tonight. Charles Bassey is also available after being recalled from the G League.

New Orleans Pelicans Injury Update

The Pelicans will be without arguably their top two players tonight. Zion Williams is out due to health and safety protocols. That’s a huge loss for New Orleans, especially considering he scored a total of 62 points in his two games against the Spurs so far this season. In those two games, he was a sizzling 23-for-32 (71.9%) from the field. 

Also out for the Pelicans is Brandon Ingram. Ingram hasn’t played since Nov. 25 due to a toe injury. 

San Antonio Spurs Starting Lineup

Without Keldon Johnson last game, head coach Gregg Popovich went with Tre Jones at point guard, Devin Vassell at shooting guard, Romeo Langford at small forward, Keita Bates-Diop at power forward and Jakob Poeltl at center. That is likely to be the starting lineup once again.

Jeremy Sochan had been starting at power forward but it appears as if Popovich now prefers to bring him off the bench to serve as the team’s backup point guard. That said, with Josh Richardson back in action, there’s a chance that Popovich once again inserts Sochan into the starting lineup in place of Bates-Diop.

Betting Guide: Spurs at Pelicans

The Pelicans are favored by 8.5 points and the over/under is set at 228 points. Due to the Spurs being without Keldon Johnson and the Pelicans being without Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, it’s difficult to know what to expect. Given the uncertainty, the smart money is on the under. The Spurs could struggle to score on the road without Johnson, while the Pelicans will likely need time to adjust to life without their top two scorers.