The San Antonio Spurs travel to New Orleans tonight to kick off their season against the Hornets. The San Antonio roster looks almost identical to the team that won 50 games last year. For the Hornets, it’s another story.
Nine players will be making their debut for New Orleans tonight, including top overall draft pick Anthony Davis. Davis and fellow rookie Austin Rivers are hoping to show early that they’re the future of this franchise and can dig them out of the crater left by the departure of Chris Paul. Davis put up strong numbers in the preseason and he’s my pick for rookie of the year (yes, I know I’m really going out on a limb there), but he’ll have his hands full in his NBA debut.
The Spurs will be without Manu Ginobili, who is sitting out the game with some back issues. Luckily for the Spurs, they have no shortage of shooting guards so several players should be up to the task of stepping in for Manu. The Hornets will also be without guard Eric Gordon indefinitely with a knee injury.
Point guard Tony Parker will be hoping to build on an MVP-caliber season, but he says the Spurs need to stay focused and motivated.
"A lot of people see us as the nice Spurs," said Parker. "We need to play like we're hungry, like we want it. We have to stop saying, 'Oh, we won a lot of championships, we'll come back next year.' We have to play with more attitude."
The Spurs swept the four-game series with the Hornets last year, but this year’s team is no pushover. Obviously with so many young guys and new players, the Hornets are going to take some time to gel, but the talent is there for this team to be a success a couple years down the road. The Hornets will not be considered an automatic win on the schedule for anyone this year, and if the Spurs want to get off on the right foot, they better come prepared to play.
The Spurs (4-1) are back on the winning track after beating the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, will face the New Orleans Hornets (4-1) in New Orleans tonight.
The Hornets have gotten off to a fast start going undefeated until losing their first game against the Blazers. The Hornets are on the wrong end of a streak as they have not beaten the Spurs since Dec. 18, 2005. This Hornets team has talent. Led by Chris Paul, the Hornets also have Tyson Chandler who is a monster in the paint, David West who has been on fire of late and Peja Stojakovic who made a franchise-record 10 3-pointers against the Lakers this season. Tyson Chandler, who is averaging 11.6 points and 11.6 rebounds, will be a load to handle for the Spurs centers.
For the Spurs, it has not been a kind week for their centers Oberto and Elson. In the past 3 games, the Spurs centers have faced Yao Ming, Shaq and tonight, Tyson Chandler. Elson and Oberto must rebound tonight and can’t have a repeat of the Rockets game where they were out-boarded.
If you thought Tim Duncan or Tony Parker were leading the team in scoring, you’d be dead wrong. Manu Ginobili is leading the team in scoring at 20.8, off the bench! So far he has been the Spurs MVP but of concern is that he is playing close to 30 mins per game. Spurs fans have to wonder if he will have anything in the tank after the All-Star break.
Early in the season, the Spurs have struggled on the offensive end and aren’t moving the ball around as much. Though they are averaging 102 points their first three games. Something Spurs fans haven’t seen from a team that is known for its defense.
Also look for Ime Udoka to get some good minutes on the floor. Brent Barry got hurt (ankle) against the Heat and will be out for the game. This is Ime’s chance to shine
Key matchup tonight will be Parker vs. Paul — two of the fastest guards in the league. Parker will have to set the tone early and dictate the tempo if the Spurs want to win. Parker must not let Paul into the paint and cause havoc.
In the end, the Hornets will surprise the Spurs and upset the defending champs.