Preview: San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Pelicans – Game #72

The San Antonio Spurs go on the road to play the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night. This is San Antonio’s first contest following a six-game homestand in which they finished with three wins and three losses. Their latest win was a 126-118 comeback victory over Dejounte Murray and the Atlanta Hawks (see the Grades).

The Spurs now play their next four games away from the AT&T Center. After tonight’s affair against the Pelicans, the Spurs have a back-to-back tomorrow night against the Milwaukee Bucks. Their final two games of the road trip are against the Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics. San Antonio has a record of 19-52 and they’re just 6-27 on the road.

The Pelicans started the season strong but they’ve slipped in a big way. Why have they struggled recently? The most obvious answer is the loss of Zion Williamson. The 22-year-old phenom hasn’t played since Jan. 2 due to a hamstring injury. On the season, Williamson is averaging 26.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists. On Jan. 2, the Pelicans had a record of 23-14. Since then, New Orleans has gone 11-23 without Williamson to slide to the 12th seed in the Western Conference.

San Antonio Spurs Injury Update

The Spurs will be without four of their five starters tonight. Keldon Johnson has been diagnosed with a sprained neck and will miss the game against the Pelicans. Devin Vassell will be on the sidelines due to left knee injury management. Jeremy Sochan will miss his third straight game with knee soreness. Starting center Zach Collins is also sidelined for rest purposes.

Off the bench, Devonte’ Graham is questionable due to quad soreness. Charles Bassey and Khem Birch remain out with long-term knee injuries.

There is a little bit of good news tonight on the injury front. Tre Jones and Doug McDermott have been banged up recently but both were cleared to play against the Pelicans.

San Antonio Spurs Starting Lineup

Head coach Gregg Popovich will have a lot of decisions to make when figuring out his starting lineup. Since Tre Jones is available, he will likely start at point guard. Malaki Branham will likely start at shooting guard. Romeo Langford is the likely starter at small forward. Expect Keita Bates-Diop to get the start at power forward. Sandro Mamukelashvili is the likely replacement for Zach Collins at center.

If Devonte’ Graham is cleared to play, he might replace Langford or Branham in the starting five to add more scoring punch.

With so many players out, expect all the healthy bodies to get minutes. Even deep bench options like Julian Champagnie and Dominick Barlow should get a healthy amount of playing time. 

Betting Guide: Spurs at Pelicans

The Pelicans are favored by 13.5 points and the over/under is at 231 points. New Orleans being heavy favorites isn’t a surprise due to all of San Antonio’s injuries. In fact, the smart money tonight is on the Pelicans to win by 14 or more points. The Spurs just don’t have enough offensive firepower to put up much of a fight.