Game On: Utah Jazz @ New Orleans Pelicans
Revenge, retribution and, hopefully, satisfaction are on the line tonight for the New Orleans Pelicans and their fans.
…Against a 1-11 Utah Jazz team?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. After blowing a 16 point lead to give the Jazz their first win of the season, the Pelicans fan base collectively seemed to scream something along the lines of, “Oh screw this!” However a strong win against the 76ers on Saturday has calmed the storm down some, especially with the return of Ryan Anderson from his foot injury.
It would have been nice to see the team play a game sooner in hopes of carrying over some momentum from the win, but for now I’ll settle for the fact that tonight is only the second regular season game with a fully healthy team (minus Darius Miller). The return of Ryan Anderson, while at times overblown, is still incredibly important to the spacing of the offense and keeping defenses honest.
But if the Pelicans want to win then the defense needs to play well—for the whole game—instead of [insert expletive here]. I rewatched every Pelicans’ defensive possession in the 4th quarter of their loss to the Jazz last week; I’m not a coach or scout but where the defensive breakdowns occurred was readily apparent.
The main culprit is awareness and preparedness. Are the guard and big both covering the ball handler on the pick and roll, and leaving the screener rim running free down the paint? Is help defense coming from the strong or weakside? Who is supposed to rotate to cover an open Gordon Hayward is the corner? These are questions the team did not have an answer to in the 4th quarter.
Monty has taken some justified and unjustified heat thus far this season but this is where he and his coaching staff need to review film and make adjustments. A coach’s job is to put his team in position to succeed. Tonight, against a team with one win, at home and coming off their most dominating performance of the season, the Pelicans’ head coach must do just that. Otherwise, the roar of the fan base’s anger might overwhelm the rest of the season.