Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Pelicans.

Jan 27, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) drives past San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the first quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 27, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) drives past San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the first quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /

Coming off their first home victory since early February, the San Antonio Spurs head back on the road to face newly acquired DeMarcus Cousins and the New Orleans Pelicans.

On February 19th, the Sacramento Kings and Pelicans shook up the NBA.

The Kings agreed to trade Cousins to the Pelicans in exchange for Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway, Tyreke Evans, a protected 2017 first-round pick, and a 2017 second-round pick.

Sacramento has agreed to trade DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans, league source tells @TheVertical.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) February 20, 2017

The Twitter-sphere went ballistic, as most fans thought the Kings were giving up way too much and getting back way too little. Trading arguably the best center in the NBA for a bunch of second-tier players and picks was questionable.

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However, the tune is already beginning to change.

Since the trade, the Pelicans are 1-3. The one win came on March 1st against the Detroit Pistons. Cousins didn’t play in this game because he was serving a suspension.

Basically, the Pelicans are 0-3 with Cousins in the lineup. The Kings are also 1-3 since the trade.

While it’s a small sample size, the Pelicans have struggled to fit Cousins into their system. Additionally, they gave up some significant depth to acquire Cousins, so the Pelicans are a little thin as far as their “supporting cast” goes.

However, with guys as talented as Cousins and Anthony Davis, it’s only a matter of time before they figure things out in New Orleans. Unfortunately for them, they have to play the one of the best defenses in the NBA tonight.

The Spurs come into this game with a record of 46-13, the second-best record behind the Golden State Warriors, who lost their second straight game last night against the Chicago Bulls.

With a Warrior loss tonight, the Spurs are just 3.0 games back of the 1st seed in the Western Conference #GoSpursGo #InKawhiWeTrust

— Air Alamo (@AirAlamo) March 3, 2017

The Pelicans are trying to figure things out, while the Spurs are trying to figure out how to secure a one seed in the Western Conference. Well, at least that’s what fans hope their goal is.

With a win tonight, the Spurs will pull themselves just 2.5 games behind the Warriors. The Spurs play the Warriors twice in the month of March, both of which coming at home.

If the Spurs want to tighten the Warriors lead, they must head into New Orleans and beat a desperate Pelican team.

Previous Matchups

The Spurs are 2-1 against the Pelicans this season.

The Spurs won their first two home matchups, 98-79 and 113-100. The Pelicans won the third matchup at Smoothie King Center, 119-103.

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The Spurs were relatively healthy with the exception of Pau Gasol in the most recent matchup. Unfortunately, the Spurs are prone to a few duds against inferior teams. Hopefully, with the addition of Cousins, the Spurs don’t come into this game thinking the Pelicans are an inferior opponent.

It is worth noting that David Lee was the starting center for the Spurs against the Pelicans, before the resurgence of Dewayne Dedmon.

It’s vital because Davis finished the game with 16 points on 54.5% shooting, along 21 total rebounds, 4 of which came on the offensive end.

With the presence of Dedmon down low, Davis and Cousins will have a much harder time rebounding the basketball. It’s not to say that Davis and Cousins won’t rebound well, but it’ll be much more of a challenge now that Dedmon is around.

Current Matchup

The Spurs and Pelicans will play the fourth and final game of the regular season.

If the Spurs win, they have a 3-1 regular season series lead over the Pelicans, and move within 2.5 games of first place. If the Pelicans win, they tie the season series at 2-2, and increase their slim chances of reaching the eighth spot in the West.

The Spurs are a 6-point favorite tonight at the #Pelicans.

NOLA lists Quincy Pondexter & Omer Asik as OUT.

— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) March 3, 2017

Offensively, the Spurs are averaging 106.8 points per game, 11th best in the NBA. The Pelicans are averaging 103.2 points per game, 21st in the NBA.

Defensively, the Spurs allow just 98.3 points per game, second best in the NBA. The Pelicans allow their opponents to score 106.6 points per game, 22nd in the NBA.

The Spurs are reporting no injuries on their roster for Friday's game at NOLA.

— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) March 2, 2017

Although the Spurs have advantages virtually everywhere over the Pelicans, there is something about this game that scares me. Cousins will be returning from his one-game suspension and will be eagerly looking to get his first win in a Pelicans uniform.

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  • On the other hand, this will be Dedmon’s biggest challenge yet. In the game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Dedmon played DeAndre Jordan very well, but Jordan isn’t a threat offensively unless he is near the basket.

    Cousins is a threat from virtually everywhere. It will be interesting to see how Dedmon guards Cousins around the perimeter. LaMarcus Aldridge will also have his hands full with Davis, who is undoubtedly one of the best power forwards in the NBA.

    Not to mention, Aldridge has been struggling mightily from the field as of late, and trying to break out of a slump against one of the best defensive big men in the league is far from ideal.

    I believe in Aldridge and Dedmon to cause Davis and Cousins some frustration in the post. Granted, the “Twin Towers” will get their points, because shutting them down completely is impossible.  However, if you can make life difficult for them, you put yourself in a great position to succeed.

    Plus, Solomon Hill will draw the matchup of Kawhi Leonard tonight. For Leonard, this is a game where he has to take over on the offensive end.

    Kawhi Leonard with the 'Jordan/Kobe' form on the fade-away for the game winner.

    — Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) March 2, 2017

    Fresh off a game winner against Paul George and the Indiana Pacers, Leonard will come ready to play tonight.

    This is also a big game for Danny Green. He has also been struggling from three-point range, and with an opponent of Hollis Thompson, Green should look to be more aggressive tonight.


    For the Spurs, this will come down to two things:

    1. Dedmon/Aldridge defense against Cousins/Davis.
    2. Offensive production from positions 1-3 (PG, SG, SF).

    Luckily, the Spurs have four bigs they can throw at Cousins and Davis, so expect this game to be physical in the post, as the Spurs aren’t afraid of fouling. Besides, fouling Cousins is the key to success, since he’s prone to picking up technicals and losing his temper.

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    Aldridge will struggle from the field again, but his defense on Davis will be formidable. Expect another 30-point performance from Leonard, who will continue his hot shooting.

    Spurs win a closely contested game against the “Twin Towers,” 104-98.