The San Antonio Spurs will enter Week 6 with a handful of games on the schedule.
Entering Week 6, the San Antonio Spurs sit at 10-6, having won its last game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. This was the third win in the last four games, putting the Silver and Black on a mini hot streak.
On Monday, the latest slate of games begins for San Antonio. It starts with the Atlanta Hawks, follows with the New Orleans Pelicans and ends with the Charlotte Hornets. This won’t be considered the most difficult three-game stretch but could make for some interesting evenings.
Heading into Week 6, how do all three of these teams stand? Let’s preview them before Monday hits.
Vs. Hawks on Monday, Nov. 20
The San Antonio Spurs’ Week 6 starts at home, with a game against the Atlanta Hawks. It’s the first time these teams have played each other in the 2017-18 season.
Atlanta became the latest team to lose to the Boston Celtics, falling 110-99 on Saturday. That moved them to 3-13 — the worst record in the Eastern Conference. There’s no Al Horford, Paul Millsap or Kyle Korver walking through that door, either.
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Instead, this Hawks team features Dennis Schroder as their best player. He’s averaging a career-high 20.1 points and 6.9 assists per game, becoming the clear alpha. His 29.9 Usage Percentage makes that clear — by far the highest number on the team.
Together, the Hawks are one of the worst defensive teams in the league. Heading into Monday’s game, they have given up 108.5 points per game — the seventh-worst mark. The opposition is shooting 52.6 percent from 2-point range, which doesn’t sound like significant but teams aren’t finding difficulties getting closer to the basket.
However, this is also one of the NBA’s best 3-point shooting teams, sitting at 40 percent and tied for second. Players like Marco Belinelli, Taurean Waller-Prince and Dewayne Dedmon are all shooting greater than 40 percent on at least 1 attempt per game.
The Spurs have the firepower to get by Atlanta, especially up front. Although John Collins has performed admirably, look for a strong game for LaMarcus Aldridge against his younger counterpart.
At Pelicans on Wednesday, Nov. 22
The New Orleans Pelicans are the rare inside-out team in the NBA, working through DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis. Both are averaging at least 25 points and 10 rebounds per game, with Cousins working more towards the stretch four role. That’s given his 7.2 3-point attempts per game — one of the NBA’s highest marks.
Davis and Cousins will be projects for Aldridge and Pau Gasol to stop, which may lead the Spurs to use fewer small-ball lineups and play more traditionally. That means less of Rudy Gay at the four and more of him at the three, working with combinations of Aldridge and Gasol, Aldridge and Joffrey Lauvergne or Gasol and Lauvergne.
Outside of them, Jrue Holiday has been a quality offensive threat. Although he’s shooting below 30 percent from the 3-point line, this is the team’s third-best player, with the rest of a roster that leaves much to be desired.
The Pelicans suffer from problems defensively, as well. Teams are shooting 38 percent from behind the arc against them, with a total percentage of 46.6 that’s the seventh-worst mark in the NBA. So, with the presence of Cousins and Davis, teams are working the perimeter and staying away from the rim (the opposition takes just 25.9 percent of its shots from 0-3 feet).
Either way, this game likely hinges on the Spurs’ ability to defend Cousins and Davis. If they can shut down at least one of them, it should change the outlook. Of course, that’s if the 2012 No. 1 pick even plays, due to a concussion he suffered against the Denver Nuggets.
At Hornets on Saturday, Nov. 25
To close Week 6, the San Antonio Spurs will face the Charlotte Hornets. It’s the first game after Thanksgiving, the second of this road trip and the second time these teams have played in the 2017-18 season.
In their first game, the Spurs won, 108-101. This was behind 64 bench points, including 22 from Bryn Forbes and 20 from Rudy Gay. Most of it was inside the arc, as the Silver and Black shot over 50 percent from 2-point range and just 33.3 percent from 3-point territory.
The Hornets reached the free throw line an absurd 42 times, but making just 27 of those attempts. 20 of them came from Dwight Howard, who made just 10 of them. Look for Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich to find any way possible to get Howard to the charity stripe, given his notoriously horrendous history from there.
Something that won’t repeat itself? Kemba Walker shooting just 4-for-12 from the field for 13 points. He’s had at least 20 points and 5 assists in his last five games, so if this carries into the Hornets’ two Week 6 matchups before the Spurs, defensive issues will potentially arise.
Which Week 6 game should the Spurs be most fearful of? Will they win any of these matchups? We’ll find out by the week’s end.