NBA Basketball is finally back, and The Spurs are back in action on Tuesday. Although there are some new faces, the Spurs are looking to contend this year (but really, when aren't they contending?), and what better way to test the waters than facing the Golden State Warriors opening night?
Later on in the week, San Antonio will face up against DeMarcus Cousins and the Sacramento Kings, the New Orleans Pelicans and lastly the Miami Heat. A very diverse week of opponents for the Silver and Black as the opposing teams have revamped their rosters. Since it's only the beginning of the season, we can expect experimentation for both teams, but these are some things to look out for this week down below.
Golden State Warriors
Tuesday, 25 October 2016 at 10:30 PM ET Away
The Spurs are facing The Warriors opening night, and the odds of San Antonio prevailing victorious on Tuesday are unfortunately slim. Danny Green suffered a quad strain and will miss three weeks of play with the Spurs. As Green is arguably the second-best defender on the roster, the depth at the SG position for San Antonio is limited with Manu Ginobili, Jonathon Simmons, and latest Spurs acquisition Bryn Forbes as the backups. Popovich will likely play Simmons for a majority of the night as there is no need for Ginobili to hunt down Thompson in the first game of the season. Although Simmons is athletic and can keep up with Golden State, he is a liability on the defensive end, and we all know how costly defensive mistakes are against the Warriors. Look out for Popovich using Tuesday night as a testing ground to solve the enigma of Kevin Durant, constantly switching lineups and tactics to create a blueprint for when they play again in March.
Thursday, 27 October 2016 at 10:30 PM ET Away
The Silver and Black will travel to Sacramento to face the Kings on Thursday night. The Kings seem to suffer at the shooting guard position with Arron Afflalo starting so we could see Ginobili playing more minutes compared to the opening game at Golden State. The Spurs will likely focus on defending the interior as DeMarcus Cousins is the largest threat on the Kings roster. Although he is the primary threat, Matt Barnes and Omri Casspi should be closed out on as they give Sacramento some necessary spacing. Rudy Gay is also a solid player that can do some damage, but Kawhi Leonard will mitigate his impact on the floor. Last year, Rudy Gay averaged 10 PPG against Kawhi while Gay averaged 17.2 PPG last season. It's easy to see why Kawhi is back to back DPOY, and he'll give us more reasons to consider him for a three-peat as he shuts down his matchups on a consistent basis. The Spurs should see a win in California if they can defend against DeMarcus Cousins, but we will have to see how Pau Gasol will handle his assignment as his defense leaves much to be desired.
New Orleans Pelicans
Saturday, 29 October 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Home
The Pelicans are an interesting story this season. Jrue Holiday is out indefinitely for the season taking care of his wife, Alonzo Gee is out, Lance Stephenson is in, and they got a potential ROY candidate in Buddy Hield. Anthony Davis may not even play this game after suffering a Grade 2 ankle sprain in China playing the Houston Rockets in the preseason. To make matters more unfortunate, Terrence Jones is the backup PF. Although he can be solid, he does not come close to replicating what Davis can do on the floor. It’s hard to say what lineups Alvin Gentry can put out on the floor to compete with the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge at the PF slot. Gentry will also have some challenges playing lineups that will get consistent buckets for the Pelicans. We might even see Buddy Hield getting some significant playing time to compensate for the lack of offense. Without Anthony Davis, the Pelicans are going to have a long night ahead with the Spurs, as Aldridge will consistently outplay Jones with his midrange and post-up game. If Anthony Davis plays, expect him to make the game bearable for the Pelicans despite limited minutes coming off of injury.
Sunday, 30 October 2016 at 06:00 PM ET Away
The last game of the week will take place in Miami as the Spurs take on the Heat on Sunday. The Heat have seen a significant restructure of their roster, signing players such as Derrick Williams, James Johnson, and Dion Waiters in order to fill some gaps after some unfortunate departures. Goran Dragic will be driving the offense, Hassan Whiteside looks like he’s worth his max contract and the starting lineup looks like it will include one of Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow. It’s a different team compared to last season to say the least, and Dion Waiters might be X-factor in winning not only against San Antonio, but against any team in general. If he is coming off the bench, he can provide the necessary spark to keep his team in contention when the starters are resting as he did with OKC. Despite the changes, the Heat still look like a weak three-point shooting team this season (24th last season shooting 34%) so San Antonio will look to frustrate Whiteside in the paint on Sunday. The only three-point threat Miami has is sophomore Josh Richardson who shot 46% from deep his rookie season, so if the Spurs can keep him and Whiteside contained, the Spurs will return home victorious.