SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs begin their quest for their sixth championship on Wednesday night after their last title back in 2014.
The Spurs are coming off a big run last year when they made it to the Western Conference Finals, eventually losing to the champion Golden State Warriors.
"Opening night, first game of the season for everybody, it's a fresh start," said Spurs guard Danny Green. "A new year for us to make something happen."
"Can't wait to start off playing the real games and we are excited to kick it off tonight," said center Pau Gasol.
The Spurs will be without Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard when they tip the season off against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
That means Dejounte Murray will get the start in place of Tony at the point guard spot.
Murray got some valuable playing time and even started a couple of games against the Warriors in the playoffs when Tony went down, so his teammates are expecting a lot from the second year guard.
"He is more experienced than he was last year, we expect him to come in be more comfortable," Green said. "Run the offense get himself involved."
Through four preseason games, Green did see a pretty big step towards Murray being the leader on the floor.
"He is more vocal for sure calling sets and plays we'll see how it tranfers over tonight," Green said.
Like the fans, the Spurs may take a few extra looks at the Timberwolves since they have revamped their team.
They have as many as eight new faces on their team including four key guys, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Jamal Crawford, and Jeff Teague, not to mention an improved Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
The Wolves are in a eight year playoff drought and now led by head coach Tom Thibodeau.
"We know how much they added to their squad and it is going to be a tough battle," Gasol said.
Since it is opening night, players and fans can expect things to be a little off at times.
"You expect high energy from the game, you expect maybe some extra mistakes here and there but at the same time hopefully we will start off with a win," Gasol said.
Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. on ESPN from the AT&T Center.
MORE SEASON STORYLINES
LEONARD AND PARKER OUT
Leonard did not practice or play during the preseason and his availability for the next few games is unknown. Parker is expected to be back on the court next month as San Antonio's veteran guard plans to return by mid- to late-November, which is actually two to four months sooner than initially expected.
LAMARCUS GETS EXTENSION
The Spurs will be looking for a big performance tonight from five-time NBA All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who recently received a three-year contract extension for $72.3 million.
Aldridge averaged 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game for San Antonio last season, but was criticized for his play during the Western Conference Finals after Leonard suffered an ankle injury.
RUDY GAY BIGGEST SPURS SIGNING, MURRAY LOOKING TO STEP UP
Unlike many other franchises, San Antonio basically stood pat this offseason, adding only veteran Rudy Gay and Joffrey Lauvergne while losing guard Jonathon Simmons.
The team however is expecting improvement and big years from younger players like Dejounte Murray, Davis Bertans and Bryn Forbes.
Perhaps the biggest news for the Spurs came when fan favorite Manu Ginobili announced during the offseason that he would be returning for a 16th season.
"I still had the appreciation for the game, I still enjoy being here every day," Ginobili said. "Incredible organization and a place where I feel respected and listened to and appreciated and I appreciate it, too."
ANOTHER WINNING, 50-WIN SEASON AHEAD?
Should the Spurs win just 41 games this season it'll be the 21st consecutive season San Antonio finished at .500 or better, which would tie the NBA mark -- matching the Utah Jazz from 1983-84 to 2003-04. The Spurs last year set a record for consecutive winning seasons with their 20th.