Tonight the New Orleans Pelicans and the San Antonio Spurs are playing a game. It’ll be the team’s third out of four meetings for the year. If this game is anything like the first two, we’re in for a tight contest. These games between Southwest Division teams offer up the dichotomy of established kings versus hopeful fighters, old versus young. In a Western Conference that’s looking more and more like a school of piranhas, every win is crucial, particularly for a young team like the Pelicans. It’s time they take it to the current royalty of the NBA and make themselves rivals to the Spurs.
Because even though these teams sit in the same division, they weren’t “rivals” by any sense of the definition. The Pelicans were just another blind calf sent up to slaughter for the Godless Death Machine that are the Spurs. Just look at last year: the Spurs went 4-0 against the Pelicans. The Pelicans would have a chance, and then the Spurs would happen. Just look at this game. The Pelicans began the fourth quarter up 12 points, and then Spurs gonna Spurs and they doubled up New Orleans 38-19 to win by 7. I was at that game, and saw Anthony Marshon Davis, Jr. head to the locker room after the game. I was hoping to touch the hand of God, but AD was having none of it. He was fed the fuck up. He was sick of losing, he was sick of seeing leads slip and sick of seeing a professional skull crusher on the other bench.
Which is what makes this year’s performance against the Spurs so uniquely satisfying so far. This year, the Pelicans have taken the first two in the series, one in San Antonio and one in New Orleans last week. In case you forgot how that first one in San Antonio ended, here’s a reminder. The GAWD Altron took Tiago Splitter’s ass to the cup to score the game winning layup. Anthony was killing the king that day, even if he had to be the assassin, the sword, and the bladesmith all by his damn self. Last week, the team fought with the Spurs, took a lead and kept the old fuckers at bay. And if you think Anthony doesn’t hold a special place in his heart for beating the Spurs, just watch when he blocks Tim Duncan and gets a jump ball. That is a man who is tired of losing to the fucking Spurs and ready to fucking win.
So, since the Pelicans have already been kicking the Spurs’ ass this year, they might as well kick some more ass tonight, right? It’s just nice to get wins. The Pelicans are gonna need every goddamn win they get to play postseason basketball. Also, a win against the Spurs is another win against competition for the same playoff positioning. It sounds crazy to say, but the Spurs are in seventh place in the conference right now! They’re only two games up on New Orleans! They’ve earned the benefit of the doubt to ascend to the top tier in the West, but as of now, they’re fighting over New Orleans for the same resources.
More than that, it’s nice to beat THIS goddamn team. The Spurs have been the embodiment of basketball perfection for the last few years. Even as the Heat and other teams have come close to playing with the same beautiful offense reliant on spacing and ball movement, the Spurs have always stood at the pinnacle. I have loved watching the Spurs. I couldn’t even hate them, because their successes weren’t hindering anything the Pelicans were doing. It’s not like San Antonio victories are what kept the Pelicans out of the playoffs last year. But this year…well, times have changed. While I’ll always love the Spurs’ style of play, the brilliance of their individual players, and the everyday treat that is Gregg Popovich, now I can muster up a healthy dose of hate for them. No more are they just a ruthless despot lording over the Pelicans’ lives. Now they’re just another fiefdom fighting for real estate in the Western Conference. It’s good to hate the Spurs. It feels healthy. The Pelicans have already gotten inside the Spurs kitchen with the two early Ws. They might as well prop their dirty shoes up on the dinner table tonight.