San Antonio at New Orleans
Time: 8:30 PM CT (ESPN)
Spread: SAS -6.5
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The San Antonio Spurs have won five-straight games and eight of its past 10 SU and will travel to face the struggling New Orleans Pelicans in the second half of an ESPN double-header Friday night. New Orleans is 1-3 since acquiring DeMarcus Cousins, but its lone win came with Cousins serving a one-game suspension for getting his 18th technical foul of the season.
The Pelicans will search for their first with with Boogie and Anthony Davis both available tonight, but the Spurs are 6.5 point favorites in the game. New Orleans is just 15-16 at home this season while the Spurs sport a 26-7 road make and 24-8 tally against fellow Western Conference foes.
San Antonio has been absolutely rolling since welcoming Pau Gasol back into the lineup. Though Dewayne Dedmon played brilliantly in his absence, the Spurs welcome the additional depth, and have continued to start Dedmon. Dedmon had just four points and two rebounds in 16 minutes as Gasol came off the bench to score 18 points in 21 minutes while posting a +6 court differential.
The Spurs also got 18 points from David Lee off the bench in that 100-99 victory over the Indiana Pacers. It is just pretty unpredictable which Gregg Popovich supporting player will be the star of the night, and the Spurs have assembled a formidable cast of reserves that all know their role. The Pelicans, conversely, have almost none of that rub, with no real depth to speak of.
And that is what may haunt New Orleans for the beginning of this “Boogie-Brow” era. The Pels have a decent third-star in Jrue Holiday, but little talent outside of him to offer Davis and Cousins sufficient offensive help. Terrence Jones parted ways with New Orleans, and its fourth option is either Solomon Hill or E’Twaun Moore.
Neither are good NBA-rotation-caliber players. In order to extract the maximum value of a Cousins-Davis pairing, the Pelicans are going to have to add some shooters and wing defenders, and for the time being it is instead adding Jarrett Jack.
The overall results from this season are likely that New Orleans misses the playoffs, but that need not label the Boogie-Brow transition as a bust, not yet at least. New Orleans will have to turn its attention to getting some wing scoring, and looking at the top free agent small forwards a nice fit would be Gordon Hayward.
That is obviously little more than a target at this point, but New Orleans may have to go a different direction than a typical point guard like Holiday with two playmaking bigs on its roster.
Since arriving in New Orleans, Cousins has averaged 23.3 points, 12.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game while posting an astronomical PER of 34.7. Davis has been similarly brilliant.
New Orleans is not a team that is in a position to become true contenders without making some changes to its supporting cast. A team that plays such efficient system basketball like San Antonio, should be able to remove any doubt that this is a matchup between a contender and a future lottery club. The Spurs may not have the two premier talents in this game, but Kawhi Leonard is a true superstar in his own right and perhaps the best defensive swingman in the Association.
While the hype continues to swirl around Davis-Cousins, expect Leonard to quietly come out and make sure this is a blowout in San Antonio’s