Published: January 26, 2014
Tonight, the 17-25 New Orleans Pelicans take on the 12-32 Orlando Magic at home fresh off a hard-fought victory against Detroit. Without Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson, and Jason Smith, the narrative has changed some, and the Pelicans have had trouble beating just about anyone recently. However, the effort is there and this team is finally starting to find some continuity in its lineups after it lost 3 major contributors in the span of one week.
The Magic are in the midst of a rebuild and are not at full strength right now, as they are missing centerpiece Nikola Vucevic. The team is chock full of young prospects, including Vucevic, Victor Oladipo, Maurice Harkless, Tobias Harris, Andrew Nicholson, and Kyle O’ Quinn.
The Magic sport an average defense and a very bad offense. They rebound well on defense, but struggle to grab offensive rebounds. They don’t foul, nor are they particularly adept at drawing free throws.
Orlando is 3-18 on the road and should be an easy win, but the Pelicans have been anything but stellar since their rash of injuries, and no game can be taken for granted. Orlando is young, but does have talent, and Magic veterans Arron Afflalo and Jameer Nelson are very capable of scoring in bunches.
Keys to Game
- Attack the rim– big surprise, right? I probably list this every preview. But the Magic are near the bottom of the league in blocking shots and that should be taken advantage of. As I mentioned earlier, the Magic don’t typically foul very often, so the Pelicans need to finish their opportunities.
- Contain Afflalo- he is capable of going off on any given night, particularly if you let him get hot from deep. Help defenders should be able to cheat off of Tobias Harris and Oladipo some, as each has struggled with shooting this season. At all costs, Pelicans should avoid leaving Afflalo and Nelson open.
- Go under Oladipo Screens– I might scream if I see a Pelican go over an Oladipo screen, because he is way too fast and has struggled far too much with consistency on his jumper to justify honoring a pull-up jumper. Make him beat you from outside.
I’m guessing the Pelicans bigs will be hedging on Nelson pick and rolls to prevent him from pulling up, as Roberts is far too small and bad at fighting through screens to recover to Nelson quickly enough.
Afflalo can post up smaller guards, and if Gordon is going to be matched up on him, he’s going to need to find a way to push him as far as he can from the basket; as I mentioned earlier, some help will likely be needed here.
This is a game that the Pelicans should win, but the Magic throttled us earlier this year.. no game can be taken for granted right now.