Viewers' Guide: Closer look at NBA TV's first doubleheader of season
Kevin Cottrell Jr., Special to NBA.com
Pelicans vs. Spurs (8 p.m. ET, NBA TV)
Future is Now
Wilt Chamberlain. Michael Jordan. Anthony Davis? After the first two games of the season, Anthony Davis has scored 95 points, joining Chamberlain and Jordan as the only three players to do so to start a season. Davis (47.5 points, 16.5 rebounds) leads the Pelicans (0-2) into San Antonio to face a Spurs (2-0) team that has a budding star of their own in Kawhi Leonard. With arguably the best two-way players in the game going head-to-head, this should be an epic sneak peek into the future of basketball.
Post Duncan Era Underway
Many questioned the look and ceiling for this Spurs team after Tim Duncan announced his retirement, but Leonard (32.5 points, 5.0 steals) and LaMarcus Aldridge (21.0 points, 9.5 rebounds) have continued the organizations winning ways. San Antonio opened the season with a bang, defeating the star-studded Golden State Warriors 129-100. They followed up their win in the Bay Area with another great defensive showing in Sacramento. What’s most impressive? After two games, they’ve held their opponents to a combined 13-for-53 shooting from beyond the arc. Duncan has been referred to as the teams’ “security blanket” in the past, it’s clear that even without him, Leonard and company still has them covered.
Spurs Home Openers
After starting the season with two road games, the Spurs return home to the AT&T center where they were 40-1 last season. Obviously teams haven’t been successful as visitors in the past and the Pelicans are no different. Since Anthony Davis was drafted the Pelicans are 1-7 as guests in San Antonio. The Spurs look to continue their hot start seeking their eighth consecutive home opening victory, but to do so they’ll have to cool the hot play of Anthony Davis.
Timberwolves vs. Kings (10:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV)
The second half of the NBA TV doubleheader features two new coaches looking to lead their teams in new directions. Tom Thibodeau is known as a winning coach that preaches defense first. Thibodeau has a career .646 winning percentage, but he’s still seeking his first win with the Wolves. His counterpart, Dave Joerger, is also known for winning and defense. Last season, Joerger led the Grizzlies to the postseason despite using 28 different lineups due to injuries. Through two games, the Kings seem to be taking on Joerger’s personality displaying a vast improvement in defense and effort. In the first two outings, opponents have struggled from beyond the arc, shooting 29.4 percent. Like Thibodeau, Joerger too looks to break ground in Sacramento, seeking the team’s first win in the new Golden 1 Center. In order to do so, the Kings will have to snap their four-game losing streak against the Wolves.
Battle of Kentucky Bigs
Two of the games most talented big men clash, as Kentucky alums Karl-Anthony Towns and DeMarcus Cousins look to continue their impressive start to the season. Reigning Rookie of the Year, Towns, scored 21 points in the opening night loss to Memphis. The second year player has had some success against his counterpart, logging 43 points and 21 rebounds in their last two meetings. Both wins. As for Cousins, the two-time All-Star has played with a purpose in the opening week averaging 30.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 50.0 field-goal percentage. After winning Gold with Team USA in Brazil, Cousins brings a winning attitude and leadership to the Kings looking to reach the postseason for the first time in his career.
One Common Goal
Every team enters the season with one common goal — reach the postseason and compete for a title. Both the Timberwolves and Kings have failed to do so over the past decade. In fact, Minnesota and Sacramento currently have the two longest playoff droughts. The Wolves have been on the outside looking in for the past 12 seasons and it has been 10 seasons for the Kings. If either team plans to put an end to their futility winning games like tonight will be the first step towards a winning campaign. Both teams are hungry, both have renewed energy and a cornerstone big to lead the way. Which team will put it all together to end the drought? The first step towards a successful season takes place tonight on NBA TV.