Game On: Denver Nuggets at New Orleans Pelicans

Published: December 27, 2013

The Pelicans look for their first win against a +.500 team tonight as they host the 14-13 Denver Nuggets. Just twelve days ago, New Orleans went into Denver minus Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans, and gave the Nuggets a game before finally falling short and losing 102-93. In that game, the Nuggets absolutely dominated the glass – outrebounding the Pelicans 51-32. Off those extra possessions, the Nuggets took 9 more free throws, made 9 more, and ….you guessed it, won by 9.

Anthony Davis will be on the floor tonight for the Pelicans, while Eric Gordon and Jason Smith are game-time decisions. While he should help narrow the rebounding gap, the Pelicans will have to do some other things to inch back closer to .500 after a 1-4 road trip.

1. Match Nate Robinson’s Energy Off the Bench

Robinson came into the last game and changed the game with his energy and hustle. He played aggressive on both ends, getting into the paint at will on offense and hounding guys defensively. When the team is healthy, the Pelicans have a game changer off the bench in Tyreke Evans, but he needs some help from his fellow guards to take the pressure off him. One of the three (Roberts, Rivers, Morrow) will have to step up for the Pelicans to offset the Nuggets bench.

2. Take Advantage of Ryno’s Mismatches

The Nuggets changed it up quite a bit in the first game, as they sometimes stuck a big on Anderson and sometimes they put a small forward on him. Hickson and Faried had a tough time chasing him on the perimeter and Wilson Chandler couldn’t stop him in the post and on step back jumpers. Ryno has the biggest mismatch in this game, and the Pelicans have to put him in situations where he can succeed depending on who is defending him.

3. Don’t Force Things

The Nuggets are on a four-game losing streak, in large part because teams can get whatever shot against them. They play a conservative style that results in a low defensive turnover percentage and very few fouls. If you are patient against Denver’s team, you will get a good look. And even when you miss, the odds are decent that you will get the ball back, as evidenced by Denver’s defensive rebound percentage (73%). The way that they are shooting as of late, this is a win as long as the Pelicans get as many possessions as Denver tonight. You win that battle by not turning the ball over.

* Update: Eric Gordon and Kenneth Faried are out tonight. Jason Smith is out as well. 


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