New Orleans Pelicans return home for matchup against injured Spurs

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - NOVEMBER 19: E'Twaun Moore #55 of the New Orleans Pelicans dribbles the ball past Marco Belinelli #18 of the San Antonio Spurs during a game at the Smoothie King Center on November 19, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - NOVEMBER 19: E'Twaun Moore #55 of the New Orleans Pelicans dribbles the ball past Marco Belinelli #18 of the San Antonio Spurs during a game at the Smoothie King Center on November 19, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /
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The New Orleans Pelicans are banged-up, but so are the San Antonio Spurs. The two teams match-up tonight in Louisiana.

It’s been a tough last few games for the New Orleans Pelicans who have been going into contests recently without several key players due to injuries. Anthony Davis, Nikola Mirotic, Julius Randle, and E’Twaun Moore were all unable to go Thursday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, the playing field will be much more level tonight at home against the 7-seed San Antonio Spurs. E’Twaun Moore should be back in action, and while Julius Randle is listed as questionable, it seems he is more likely to be back tonight as well than to miss a second game in a row. Davis and Mirotic are still out, but the San Antonio Spurs will be without at least one of their two most important players themselves.

Perennial all-star guard, DeMar DeRozan, will miss tonight’s action with a sore knee. This in itself is a huge break for the Pelicans, but San Antonio’s other all-star, LaMarcus Aldridge, is also listed as questionable in this one with a sore left wrist. That would put the Spurs down two starters, which is the same amount of starters the Pelicans would be down too, assuming Moore and Randle are actually ready to go. But it doesn’t end there. The Spurs’ starting power forward, Davis Bertans, has already been ruled out too for personal reasons. Clearly, the Spurs will be lacking their typical depth and will likely have a cobbled-together starting lineup tonight, similar to what the Pelicans had to deploy on Thursday.

Despite their injuries, the Spurs are still a team that you always have to take seriously. It’s been a less successful season than usual for them with the departure of Kawhi Leonard and some previous injuries to key players, but they still are led by arguably the best NBA coach of all time in Gregg Popovich. The Spurs turn the ball over fewer times than anyone else in the league. They also lead the entire NBA in 3 point shooting percentage, and rank third in overall field goal percentage. The Pelicans are ranked second in overall field goal percentage themselves, so that stat doesn’t always translate to victories. Still, it’s clear that the Spurs are a very competent team this season, and injured or not, they move the ball well and get good looks. You cannot fall asleep on this team, or you’ll find yourself with another notch in your loss column.

Tonight’s game is a big opportunity for the New Orleans Pelicans, who proved on Thursday night in a close game without four starters that they will still try to compete no matter who they end up with on the floor. Look for the Spurs to do the same, however. While the Pelicans are fighting to get themselves back into playoff contention, the Spurs are working just as hard to hang on to one of the final playoff spots as well. This could wind up being a very important game for the Pelicans when we look back on the results of the 2018-2019 NBA season, so hopefully New Orleans can take advantage of this more-favorable-than-usual contest against San Antonio tonight.