Game On: New Orleans Pelicans at Phoenix Suns

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Published: February 28, 2014

Well, I certainly didn’t see it. Phoenix enters tonight’s game at a 33-24 record, good for 8th in the West and a far cry from what I expected the team to be. But I wasn’t alone. Las Vegas has Phoenix’s expected record at around 21 wins for the season.

Phoenix is exceeding expectations under first year head coach Jeff Hornacek, thanks in large part to Goran Dragic, who is having a terrific season. Dragic is scoring 20 points per game and dishing out 6 assists while registering a True Shooting % of 60%.

Dragic missed Wednesday’s game and I have not found any update on his status for tonight, but obviously, his presence is hugely impactful on tonight’s game.  The same can be said for Anthony Davis, who I have not heard an update on. I will stay close to the computer and post updates below this paragraph when I see them.

Unfortunately, my post is highly continent on whether Dragic is playing, because it just isn’t the same team without him. Eric Bledsoe, their other high-quality guard, has missed a large portion of the season, but Dragic has carried them just fine.

So what does Phoenix do well?

  1. Shoot 3s
    Phoenix’s 3 point percentage isn’t outstanding, but it’s respectable, and they jack 3 pointers without hesitation. Channing Frye is an excellent shooting stretch 4 and dynamic athlete Gerald Green is throwing up a high volume of 3s as well. Phoenix’s shooting is driven (ha!) in large part by Dragic, who excels at carving up defenses off the dribble.
  2. Push the Pace
    Phoenix features some very, very good athletes and loves to push the pace. While pace has been something of a buzzword this season for the Pelicans, it is unmistakably true that you need ball-handlers capable of pushing the pace for it to be effective. Phoenix’s Dragic and Bledsoe can do just that (but again, Bledsoe will be out). It also doesn’t hurt to have high-flyers like Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee running the floor.
  3. Defend the 3 point line
    Phoenix is one of the league’s best at defending the 3 point line, as opponents are only shooting 35% from the corner and around 32% from above the break.

Fortunately for the Pelicans, the Phoenix Suns are very generous in sending their opponents to the line. Phoenix ranks 4th in Opponents’ FTA rate (guess who leads it!!!) and Pelicans guards should be able to get to the free throw line effectively tonight. Of course, that will be made much harder should Anthony Davis not play, as the Pelicans would have bigs with little skill crowding the paint and clogging it for drivers.

Tonight would be a good night to play Luke Babbitt heavy minutes, as Channing Frye and the other Phoenix 4s spend the majority of their time away from the rim. You don’t need to make 3s to open up space, you just have to be a threat to make them, and Babbitt can do that.

Stretching the floor also opens up opportunities for players like Anthony Davis to crash the offensive boards, and Phoenix ranks 25th in the league in defensive rebounding, so there should be opportunities.

The lowly Utah Jazz waxed the Dragic-less Phoenix Suns the other night, so if he sits, this is definitely a winnable game. If he plays, this is a tough road test for the Pelicans.

 

13 Comments

  1. CPMDatson

    February 28, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Hugely impactful? The lazy overuse of the word impact…affect/effect has been retired it seems. Is this the right place to air this grievance,  probably not. But I’m at work. And the impactfulness of this makes me sad. (Yes, I saw impactfulness on both SI and ESPN the last month.)

  2. CPMDatson

    February 28, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    On to the team, looking at our remaining schedule I don’t see many wins available,  even with a healthy AD. We should start to see more of Rivers, Withey, Miller because we could still not touch 30 wins, and as low as 27 may see our pick stay home.

  3. Major504

    February 28, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    What I don’t understand is, why are other teams siging NBA free agents and the Pelicans have only signed guys forigen guys. Maybe they tired but with no success. Who knows, anything is better than nothing.

  4. Michael Pellissier

    February 28, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    CPMDatson  words tend to be reused when you write a lot of pieces. I’m not imitating someone else’s writing. I’m sorry you don’t like the word impact, but I write to get a point across, not to dazzle. I’m well aware that I’m not a spectacular writer, but if the word impact gets the job done, I use it.

  5. Pelican Poster

    February 28, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Michael Pellissier CPMDatson I am a stickly for grammar, but not when reading a blog…I always have the option to not follow the blog should it really irritate me enough to do so…I only care about the content and sentiments expressed…which is why I visit in the first place…if I wanted an English lesson I’d go to an English blog instead…unless we are talking about Pelicans and proper English together…which undoubtedly would give you fewer followers

  6. NOEngineer

    February 28, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    A stickly for grammar?   Say it ain’t so….

  7. bigindian

    February 28, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/10533278/phoenix-suns-goran-dragic-ankle-game-decision-new-orleans-pelicans

    Dragic is a game-time decision, along with Davis.  But Dragic is a huge part of them pushing the pace, so without him it might be a different team…

  8. NOEngineer

    February 28, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    If Davis doesn’t play, start Rivers, Gordon, Morrow, Babbitt, and Withey.   First guy to make a turnover or miss a free throw gets yanked for Evans.    Next up, in order (regardless of who they replace):  Miller, Ajinca, Roberts, Aminu, and finally Stiemsma.    Keep rotating based on turnovers and missed free throws (first out = first in).  If Evans shoots from outside the paint it counts as a turnover.  Let the other team match up to our crazy-ass lineups if they can!     Let’s make losing fun again!

  9. Steven J

    February 28, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    Major504  All NBA free agents worth anything are signing with contenders. And the Pelicans don’t have the playoffs in their future this year. Nobody wants to come to New Orleans right now.

  10. PelicanSaints

    February 28, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    Major504 If you noticed, all the recent free agents signed with teams heading for the playoffs…all have expiring deals….With that said all these guys will be on the market after the season is over….makes no sense to sign a guy right now….

  11. mateor

    February 28, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Michael Pellissier CPMDatson  I think you have a real bright future as a sports writer. I am all for a good troll, but the grammar police leave me totally cold.
    Keep it up, you and Nick have been keeping the site alive.

  12. Michael Pellissier

    March 1, 2014 at 12:08 am

    mateor Michael Pellissier CPMDatson  thanks, Mateor. As always, your support is very much appreciated. It is very IMPACTFUL

  13. Pelican Poster

    March 1, 2014 at 12:22 am

    NOEngineer Glad you liked that one

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