New Orleans Hornets (0-0 0-0 ATS) vs. San Antonio Spurs (0-0 0-0 ATS) AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX 8 PM EST Wednesday October 28, 2009 on ESPN
By Jason Green of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Hornets +9 / Spurs -9
In the opening game for both teams the New Orleans Hornets head to the Lone Star State to take on the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs lost in the 1st round of the playoffs last year, but they are ready for another title run this season after they made a huge off-season addition with the trade for swingman Richard Jefferson. Jefferson will provide the Spurs with more scoring and solid defense, which they will need since defensive stopper Bruce Bowen retired. The Spurs also signed Antonio McDyess and Theo Ratliff and PF DeJuan Blair fell to them in the draft with the 37th pick. The Hornets did not make as many moves, but they did trade for C Emeka Okafor to take the place of the departed Tyson Chandler.
Health is a big issue for both teams this season. San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili was limited to only 38 games last season and New Orleans’ Peja Stojakovic was limited to 61 games. The Spurs have to stay healthy this season if they are going to challenge the Lakers in the Western Conference. The Hornets made the Western Conference Finals a couple of seasons ago, but they may not have the talent to get back even though they have the best PG in the game in Chris Paul.
Neither team was a high scoring one last season, as the Spurs ranked 23rd (97 ppg) and the Hornets ranked 26th (95.8 ppg). Where each team was, and will be this season, strong was on D, where the Spurs ranked 2nd in points allowed (93.3 ppg) and the Hornets ranked 5th (94.3 ppg). Both teams were pretty even in terms of rebounding differential, as the Spurs were at +0.6 rpg and the Hornets were at -0.3 rpg.
The PG match up in this game is a sweet one with Tony Parker facing Chris Paul. If Parker can contain Paul it gives the Spurs a great chance to win since the Hornets do not have a lot of scoring options.
The Hornets will have to hit the boards hard in this game, as they do not have a lot of size in their frontcourt. Okafor is solid on the glass, as he ranked 5th last season in rebounds per game (10.1).
The Hornets begin the season a little behind the 8-ball, as even though they will all play they are banged up. Paul has a respiratory illness, Emeka Okafor has a bruised toe, and David West has a sore ankle.
The Hornets like to get out and run and maybe their only chance in this game is if they make this a high-tempo game. They do not have the players on D that can match up well with Tim Duncan or Manu Ginobili.
David West is a big key for the Hornets in this game, as he will have to have a big scoring game for the Hornets to win.
The Hornets do not have a deep bench so the starters have to provide the bulk of the scoring. On the other hand the Spurs have a deep bench so they will provide a lot of rest for the starters. That is especially good for Duncan, who suffered with tendonitis in his quad at the end of last season and in the playoffs.
The Hornets did not end the pre-season strong, as they lost 4 of their last 5 games while the Spurs won 3 of their last 5 games.
These 2 teams split their 4 game series last season.
On the injury front Chris Paul, Emeka Okafor, David West, and Ike Diogu are all day-to-day.
Jason’s Pick: The Spurs have reloaded for another title run while the Hornets may actually be worse this season since Emeka Okafor may be a downgrade over Tyson Chandler. I think the Spurs will come out on fire, as they have too many weapons. The Spurs will win this game and they match up well with the Hornets so they will also cover the 9 point spread.