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Game On: Philadelphia 76ers at New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans are back home, as they try to get back on track after their embarressing three game road trip that saw them drop games to the Suns, the Lakers, and the Utah Jazz. When the schedule was first released, tonight’s game looked to be yet another cupcake on a schedule that was full of them in the first month. Cut to November 16th, though, and the Pelicans are 3-6 while the surprising Sixers are 5-5 and have wins over three elite teams (Chicago, Miami, and Houston).
The Sixers will likely be without Michael Carter-Williams tonight, while the Pelicans Ryan Anderson will try to give it a go, so talent will clearly be on the side of the Pelicans. Add in the fact that Philadelphia played last night while the Pelicans have had two full days off since their last game, and it looks safe to assume that a win is in the cards, but we have made that assumption far too many times this season and been wrong. Every game is a battle with this young team and tonight will be no different. Let’s take a look at what it will take for the Pelicans to win tonight.
Keys to the Game
1. Have Success at a Faster Pace
It is obvious when looking at the numbers that the Pelicans tend to play at the pace that their opponents set. When they play slow teams, the Pelicans tend to play slow and vice-versa. And the Pelicans have had success this season when playing slow; Games against Indiana, Memphis, and Charlotte were arguably their best games of the year and those teams are all bottom five in pace. The Sixers are 2nd in the NBA in pace, meaning we should expect an uptempo game. The Pelicans have to make sure their transition defense and their rotations in the half court are crisp, while also making sure they execute their fast break opportunities. Seriously, I have never seen a team struggle so much with 2-on-1 and 3-on-2 fast break chances in my life. That can’t happen again tonight.
2. Take More Three-Pointers
Whether or not the Pelicans have Ryan Anderson, this is something that the team has to do tonight. The 76ers are last in the league in three-point attempts allowed and made. Teams are taking 30 per game against Philadelphia and making 12. The Pelicans don’t have to take 30, but they need to take far more than 12 (their current average). A minimum of 18-20 attempts from behind the arc must be taken tonight, as Philadelphia sacrifices the deep shot to protect the paint on defense and they also rarely foul. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
3. Play Aminu at the Four Tonight
The Sixers love to run, and when they can’t score in transition, they simply spread the floor with five guys who can all hit from 18 feet+ and attack the rim relentlessly. Playing AD and Smith would be pointless, as Davis would likely be stuck covering Thad Young in that scenario. Put Aminu in at the four next to AD and all of a sudden you have a team that could keep up with Philadelphia while also giving yourself the opportunity to put multiple three-point shooters next to AD and Aminu, as opposed to having those two plus Smith’s mid-range game.
Other Notes and Observations
– Greg Stiemsma is out 6-8 weeks (so 8-10 in real time) with a Grade 2 MCL tear. Thankfully, the Pelicans signed Lou Amundson this week and also have Jeff Withey available. It will be interesting to see which one of these guys get the 4th big minutes when Ryan Anderson is 100%. Amundson definitely knows the system better and is more ready to play right now, but Withey’s potential in infinitely higher. Tough decision for Monty.
– I personally won’t believe Anderson is playing tonight until I see it. Too much experience getting my hopes up for a key player’s return, only to have my hopes dashed. I know he is active, but I am assuming he is out tonight until I actually see him on the court, releasing one of those awe-inspiring trey’s.
– Pelicans are 7.5 point favorites tonight and the over/under is 199.5. I like the Pelicans to win, but the Sixers to cover. I mean, how often do we really see this Pelicans team control a game from start to finish? I see another one of those games where they get a big lead early but squander it. This time, though, they hold on and win 105-102. So, yes, I like the over.
– Guy That You Barely Ever Heard of Likely to Come Out of Nowhere and Beat Us Candidate: James Anderson. Yes, that James Anderson who was drafted in the first round by the Spurs but never cracked their rotation, he is now on the Sixers. He is a big shooting guard who can get hot, and with our rotation issues, I could definitely see us leaving him to run out on guys like Evan Turner and Thad Young, guys that are 9-41 combined from three this season. That’s just how we do!
– All Star voting is underway. Vote for AD and others early and often. Thanks.