Game On: Hornets @ Pelicans

Published: January 15, 2016

Tonight, the Pelicans host the Hornets (still sounds a little weird to say), an opponent who has experienced similar fortunes as themselves as of late. Both teams were able to snap long losing streaks on Wedneday night – New Orleans halted a 4-game skid in Sacramento, while Charlotte ended their string of 7 straight losses at home against Atlanta. Before that massive slide, the Hornets were 17-13 and looking good for a playoff appearance. Since then, their luck has taken a turn, largely due to injuries. Along with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who hasn’t played yet this season, Al Jefferson has also been sidelined for all of their 1-7 stretch (and has only played in two games since the start of December).

The Pelicans come into the game with what is certainly the more talented roster, but as we have seen this season, that is hardly all that matters. The more impactful statistic may be their record at home vs. road, as New Orleans’ home winning percentage (44%) is nearly double what it is on the road (23%). A healthy Anthony Davis also doesn’t hurt, as he returned from a brief absence on Wednesday night to help the Pelicans put together their most complete game in a while.

My Three Things to Watch

  1. 3-point Defense. Since December 1st, the Hornets actually lead the league in 3-point attempts per game at 30.6, though they haven’t been terribly good at hitting them (33.6%). During that same stretch, the Pelicans have allowed about the same 3-point percentage to be shot against them (33.9%), which ranks in the NBA’s top-10 over that time period. This is a drastic change from the first 5 weeks of the season, in which New Orleans allowed opponents to convert on a horrifying 40.9% of attempts from long range (thanks, Steph Curry!). Keep an eye on whether or not the Pels can continue their more recent solid 3-point defense on the Hornets’ high volume attack.
  2. Free Throw Volume. Since December 1st, the Hornets are one of four NBA teams to rank in the league’s top-10 in both free throw attempts per game (24.8) and free throw percentage (78.6%). Leading this charge is star point guard Kemba Walker, who has made 89.3% of his 5.6 FTA per game over the last 30 days. He and Jeremy Lin have averaged about 9 free throw attempts per game between them, and are good at forcing opponents into the penalty early with their ability to penetrate.
  3. Pelicans in the Paint. Since Jefferson first went out at the end of November, the Hornets have arguably been the best team in the NBA at interior defense. They are allowing only 35.3 points in the paint per game (best in the league) and 56.6% shooting on shots in the restricted area (2nd in the league) on the 5th fewest restricted area attempts in the NBA. If your name is Anthony Davis, that shouldn’t matter. Establish your presence inside and don’t unnecessarily drift out towards the perimeter.

Enjoy the game!

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.