Game On: New Orleans Pelicans at Sacramento Kings

Published: December 23, 2013

Tyreke Evans and Ryan Anderson return to Sacramento tonight, looking to help the Pelicans end their four game losing streak. The Pelicans were right there with the Trailblazers on Saturday night, but couldn’t close out a game against a top-tier opponent. Tonight, they face an 8-18 Kings team that has been up and down since they added Rudy Gay.

The schedule is softening up a bit for the Pelicans, and with their Finishing Five healthy, it is time for them to go on a run that will get them firmly back in the playoff hunt. That run starts tonight, and in order to end this brutal road trip with a win, the Pelicans will have to do the following:

1. Get the ball out of Isaiah Thomas’s hands

The two biggest names on this team are DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay, but Thomas is the catalyst for the Kings offense. He is an efficient scorer who can make plays for others that drives defenses mad with his quickness and ability to get a shot off in a blink of an eye. You have to take the ball out of his hands and force Gay to try to initiate the offense or let them run it through Cousins in the low post. Gay will end up chucking up bad shots and Cousins has a tendency to turn it over down low. Either option is better for the Pelicans than Isaiah.

2. Let it Fly From Deep

The Kings are 29th in the NBA in three-point field goal makes allowed. Teams shoot 23 a game against them and make 40%. The Pelicans shoot it well enough to take advantage of the Kings poor perimeter defense (38%), but they only average about 17 attempts per game. They need to get that number somewhere between 22 and 25 to take advantage of the Kings greatest weakness.

3. More Finishing Five Please

The Finishing Five is averaging 9 minutes a game in the 9 games that they have all been healthy this year. Recently, though, Monty has given them more time together, as they have garnered about 13 minutes together per game in the last three contests in which they were all healthy. The Finishing Five unit’s numbers are dominant, and the more time they are on the court, the greater the chances are for success. Plain and simple.

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