Game On: New Orleans @ Minnesota

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Published: January 1, 2014

Two teams fighting for the end of the playoff seeding clash tonight as the Pelicans visit the Minnesota Timberwolves.  Looking at their records, you would assume the teams are comparable, with Minnesota 15-16 and the Pelicans 14-15.  The records, however, obscure the fact the Wolves have an offense that generates 108.4 points per possession and their defense allows 104.3.  The Pelicans essentially match that offensive output, but their defense is four points worse.

The offense is powered by a trio of efficient scorers in Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin.  Love’s unique brand of scoring at the rim and from deep earns him 1.4 points per shot – while Pekovic and Martin each earn 1.3.  Aside from Anthony Davis(1.35), no Pelican player scores more easily than those three Wolves.  It’s the rest of the team, however, that keep this Timberwolves team from having a dominant offense.  Brewer is okay, but the rest of the contributors – Rubio, Barea, Mbah A Moute, Cunningham – you name them, they are shockingly inefficient.  Austin Rivers, who is held up as a pillar of inefficiency (this year he’s not so bad folks) would be the fifth most efficient scorer on the Wolves.

Still, with those three capable scorers force the issue, helping the Wolves draw the fifth highest rate of free throws in the league.  Couple that with the whole teams penchant for not turning the ball over and Love and Pekovic’s dominance on the offensive boards, and they can really run away with a game.  The Pelicans will need to stay focused and keep it close.

And if they do keep it close, they will likely win.  The  Wolves have exactly zero wins by less than five points.  80% of their wins are by 8 or more.  This team either wins convincingly or loses.

So how do the Pelicans keep it close?

Keys to the Game

  • Attack the Rim.  The Wolves don’t foul, but they don’t contest either, allowing a high percentage of shots at the rim.  The Pelicans need to unleash Evans and Davis at the hoop early and often.
  • Compete on the boards.  The Pelicans are phenomenal offensive rebounders, but weak defensive ones.  The Wolves will maul opponents on both ends behind the strength of Love and Pekovic.  The Pelicans need to crash the boards from every position.
  • If Rubio is 15 feet or more from the Basket, ignore him.  Seriously.  Have his guy humping Kevin Love.  Make him shoot.

Enjoy the game!

9 Comments

  1. dxxpxx

    January 1, 2014 at 11:25 am

    “humping kevin love” lol

  2. Michael McNamara

    January 1, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Huge game. 
    Agree with Ryan about the foul line being huge in this game. Also, I dont want to see any hedging in this game. Go under all picks, let Rubio shoot as much as he wants

  3. pels4life

    January 1, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    Is the game on tv I can’t find it

  4. pels4life

    January 1, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Is the game on tv

  5. Jason Calmes

    January 1, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Not on FSNO or a national broadcast.

  6. Nithenz

    January 1, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    Nothing on the site about Lou being waived? Was it something about guaranteed money, or just opening a spot in the roster seeking some trade? Guess he was just redundant in the roster, with so many second tier (second in our team…most would be 3rd/4th bigs in some other teams…) I liked Lou way more than Stiemsma…I was so happy with Greg signing, but there was a reason he has bonce so many teams in his few years in the league, and also i think he got a 2 yrs guaranteed money.
    Whats your take in this move?

  7. wilthomas178

    January 1, 2014 at 8:10 pm

  8. kfte

    January 1, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Nithenz I like you over Stiemsma.

  9. Nithenz

    January 1, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    wtf is wrong with our ability to draw fouls…this disparity in FTA lately is alarming… I know Zebras has been abusing us, but its like the third game in a row with a really big difference

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