Game On: Denver Nuggets at New Orleans Pelicans

Published: March 9, 2014

Can the Pelicans make it three in a row?! After wins over perhaps two of the three worst teams in the NBA right now (Philly being the other), the Pelicans hope to get their first win over a team with a superior record since they defeated the Timberwolves way back on February 7th. The Nuggets had lost 11 of 12 themselves before the last two games against the Lakers (a common thread) and Dallas at home. Like the Pelicans, the Nuggets defense has been horrendous of late too. The main difference between the two teams has been the pace of play, and the team who dictates that should win this match-up. The following will also greatly impact the outcome.

1. Containing Ty Lawson

Lawson has been an absolute beast since returning from injury, averaging 27 points and 11.7 assists while shooting 56% from the field and 62.5% from deep. The Pelicans will start Brian Roberts on him, and as we have seen in the past, Roberts is not exactly fleet of foot. If the Pelicans want to keep the pace down in this game, they will have to take good shots on one end so the Nuggets can’t get into transition and play team defense on the other end to help Roberts out in the half court.

2. Defend Without Fouling

This is the key to every game seemingly, but tonight it is especially important. The Nuggets are 7th in free throw rate, with Lawson, Faried, Mozgov,and Hickson all having very high ratios. If you have noticed, three of those guys play on the frontline, where the Pelicans problems tend to occur. If the Nuggets bigs continue to get to the line and rack up fouls on the bigs, that causes all kinds of problems for the Pelicans defense. The Pelicans simply cannot afford to have the Nuggets in the penalty with 5 or 6 minutes left in every quarter.

3. Unleash Tyreke

The last time these two teams played in New Orleans, Tyreke Evans scored 19 points and dished out 10 assists as he got to the paint whenever he wanted against Denver. Even when he attacked and missed shots, the Pelicans bigs were able to clean up the glass, grabbing rebounds on 5 of his 10 misses. Randy Foye is too small to defend him while Wilson Chandler and Evan Fournier aren’t physical enough. And with no real shot blockers in the paint, Tyreke should be the primary facilitator tonight, and he should have great success if given that opportunity.


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