HOME TEAM: San Antonio Spurs (2-1, 1-0 at home)
After opening with two solid victories, the Spurs were dealt with their first loss of the season on Monday. They fell short against the younger and more explosive New Orleans Pelicans, 98-95.
The key thing about the Spurs now is the promise shown by the youthful core, particularly Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker, and Keldon Johnson. Murray, a tall, long-armed, defensive point guard, is averaging 15.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 7.3 assists, and 1.3 steals per game on the season. Barring any setbacks (knock on wood), he appears to be on his way to a breakout campaign. Walker and Johnson, meanwhile, are showcasing improvement by both chipping in double-digit points per contest – 15.7 and 14.0 PPG, respectively.
Elder statesman LaMarcus Aldridge (12.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG) is off to a slow start, but the other former All-Star, DeMar DeRozan, is still doing his thing well. Along with his usual scoring (21.0 PPG), DeRozan is also doing a good job facilitating his teammates, racking up nine, eight, and 10 assists through the team’s first three games.
The Spurs are averaging 115 PPG this season.
AWAY TEAM: Los Angeles Lakers (2-2, 0-0 on the road)
The defending champion Lakers are entering their first road game of the season. They are not looking as mighty as everyone thought they’d be, which was quite evident in squandering a 13-point, second-half lead in yesterday’s 115-107, loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. But, of course, note that we’re only four games in and more than half of the team is coming off a very, very short off-season.
LeBron James, always proving that he’s an ageless wonder, posted good stats on the latter half of a back-to-back. He had 29 points to go along nine rebounds and six assists against the Blazers, and is putting up 22.8 PPG, 7.5 RPG, and 6.5 APG after four games.
Anthony Davis, on the other hand, was quiet in his return from rest. Though he tallied a double-double, it was just 13 points and 10 boards on 6-for-14 shooting. There was little trace of his usual, unstoppable self whenever he’s on the block.
Tomorrow should be a good test as to how conditioned the Lakers really are overall. Hopefully, we can see more assertion from AD, who should be in a favourable match-up opposite Aldridge. Newcomers Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell could be heavily involved in the offense as it may be James’ turn to play laid back, which will feature him more as a passer.
The Lakers are averaging 120.3 PPG this season.
If the Lakers are in good form, we’ll see them avenge their frustrating defeat to the Blazers. I also expect Davis to also make up for his mediocre showing this past Tuesday.
James and DeRozan’s match-up will be interesting, but Schroder and Murray, two similarly-built point guards, should be fun as well.
The Lakers win, 112-106.