Game On: Pelicans vs Timberwolves

Well this is it. At 13-27, the Pelicans sit 4.5 games out of the 8th seed in the West and just 1 game out of the 4th seed in the Tank. Starting tonight the Pels enjoy a 7-game long home stand. At the end of it, the direction of this team should become much clearer. In the Smoothie King Center tonight the Pels host the 13-29 Minnesota Timberwolves. The New Year has shown the Pelicans a much easier schedule than the first couple months of the season, but for a 13-27 team, no game is easy. As Head Coach Alvin Gentry has said, “we aren’t good enough to coast,” proven by the loss to the Lakers just a week ago.

The Pelicans had put together a 2-game winning streak but yesterday’s hard fought loss to the Memphis Grizzlies put an end to that. It seems that every chance they get to make up ground on the playoff race slips away. With the trade deadline drawing ever closer and some tough decisions looming on the future of the roster, it is do or die time for the once promising Pelicans core.

This game could turn out to be an interesting matchup. The Timberwolves have been building through the draft for a few years now. Their roster is littered with young potential, including the center piece of the Kevin Love trade Andrew Wiggins, 2014’s 13th pick Zach Lavine, and this past year’s #1 overall pick Karl Anthony Towns. The 7ft rookie’s first year in the NBA is drawing many comparisons to Anthony Davis’. Seeing these two big men against each other for the 1st time should make for good entertainment.

Some keys to the game:

In yesterday’s loss to the Grizzlies, the Pelicans allowed a team making just 5.7 threes a game at 32.9% best them from behind the arc. Memphis hit 8/19 while New Orleans made 6/19 (they average 8.7/game). 2 more 3’s doesn’t seem like a big difference, but the Pels ended up losing by 2. They need to make sure that tonight they win that battle, as the Timberwolves are another team that doesn’t shoot or make 3’s.

Nor does Minnesota really get in the paint (15th in the league in % of points scored in the paint). They don’t get out and run, they don’t score much off turnovers, but they are 3rd in the league in percent of points scored from midrange and 1st from the Free Throw line. If the Pels can play smart defense and keep Minnesota off the line then they should see success. The defense has been solid of late but they commit a good number of fouls (10th in the league in fouls/game). Quit shooting yourself in the foot, no fouls.

In his last 10 games, Eric Gordon is averaging just 11.6 points in over 33 minutes a night while shooting under 40% from the field, and he isn’t getting to the line at all. It would be nice to get some contribution from the Pels’ highest paid player, especially if Tyreke Evans is forced to sit again.

Tip off is for 7CT, tune in and Flock Up!

2 responses to “Game On: Pelicans vs Timberwolves”

  1. I know I’m supposed to get myself in the right frame of mind every time I show up at the Smoothie King Center for a Pelicans game, but for some reason I’m not too enthusiastic about tonight’s game (just marking the halfway point of this season should be enough to cause some excitement, shouldn’t it?).  Is it possible I’m suffering from low basketball IQ?

  2. Every time I read things like “the Pelicans and their once promising core” I get so angry at Demps, Loomis and Gentry and the hatchet job they’ve performed on this team since last summer. They’re lucky NOLA is a smaller market and the saints are priority #1 for the city. Otherwise there would be such incredible outrage over how this team has been set back in a mere six months … damm shame

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