Game On: New Orleans Pelicans @ Minnesota Timberwolves

Lundi Gras brings us a matchup of recent No. 1 draft picks as the New Orleans Pelicans (18-32) take on the Minnesota Timberwolves (16-36.)  The Pelicans hope to snap their four game losing streak, while Minnesota has won back-to-back games. The New Orleans Pelicans are (5-20) on the road record this season, while the T’Wolves are (8-18) at home.

The real intrigue in this matchup will come from watching Kentucky alums Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Davis battle it out. Towns is averaging 16.7 points per game (on 54% shooting) and 10.1 rebounds per game as a rookie. The Timberwolves are led in scoring by another former No. 1 draft pick in Andrew Wiggins, who averages 20.8 points per game. Minnesota offense is run by Ricky Rubio, who averages 8.7 assists per game, good for fifth in the league (and is second in Assists/Turnover ratio.)

The New Orleans Pelicans currently have the 10th best Offensive Rating in the league, while the Minnesota Timberwolves are tied for 16th. With each team having a bottom-8 rated defense, and both teams having players that like to run, it may be a high-scoring game.

Here are the keys to the game:

Score 100 Points: The Pelicans are (18-8) this season when they eclipse the century mark. The team is 0-24 when they fail to reach that mark. Against a team that gives up 105.7 points per 100 possessions, there is no excuse for the Pelicans to come up short.

Ryan Anderson, the Barometer of Success: Otherwise known in 25 or so other cities as “The-Guy-Who-Is-Breaking-ESPN’s-Trade-Machine”, Anderson’s win/loss splits are huge. In the 17 games the team has won with him on the court, Anderson has scored 21.2 points per game on 51.3% shooting from the field and 51% shooting from beyond the arc. In the losses, 14.6 points per game, 39.2% from the field, and 30.9% from beyond the arc. If Anderson starts raining threes, the Pelicans have a much better shot at winning.

Win (And Take Advantage) of the Turnover Battle: Despite having one of the surer ball handlers in the league, and playing at one of the slower paces, Minnesota is tied for the 8th most turnovers per game. This is an area, where the Pelicans excel, averaging the fifth fewest turnovers per game. If the Pelicans can get some easy buckets in transition, and keep Wiggins off of any highlight reels for the night, the team can snap their losing streak.

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