Pelicans at Pacers: Open Thread

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Published: December 23, 2014

The Pelicans finish up their quick two-game road trip in Indiana tonight with a match-up against the Pacers. Before the game, I recommend reading this nice “bittersweet” column written by Gregg Doyel of the Indy Star about Eric Gordon’s return to Indianapolis and a kindergarten teacher of his who never misses when he comes to town. Other notes to get you prepared for tip-off:

  • The Pacers are the 2nd worst team in the NBA this season in offensive rating, but they’re still a top-10 defensive team even without Paul George. Roy Hibbert is once again one of the top defensive big men in the NBA, and will certainly look to cause problems for attacking guards like Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday. Their ability to either A) get Hibbert in foul trouble or B) force the defense to collapse, thereby freeing up teammates could determine whether tonight’s game is somewhat one-sided or a fight ’til the finish.
  • The Pacers have played the second toughest schedule in the Eastern Conference (though not as difficult as the Pelicans), so their 9-19 record is not terribly indicative of their ranking among the eastern teams. The Pelicans are undoubtedly the more talented team, but Indiana has enough to keep this game close with a front court of Hibbert and David West.
  • The Pacers allow the 3rd fewest 3-point attempts per game in the NBA, and they’re top-10 in opponents’ 3-point percentage. However, few teams have a stretch 4 like Ryan Anderson, so his ability to get open and knock down shots from the perimeter will be key tonight.
  • Indiana’s defense is effective, but about as conservative as they come without Paul George. The Pacers are all about controlling the defensive glass in favor of getting out in transition, as they hold the second best defensive rebound rate in the NBA and the second worst fast break points per game average. They also score the second fewest points off of turnovers per game, which indicates that they don’t typically gamble on steal attempts. As long as the Pelicans play their typical turnover-averse offense (NOLA ranks in the top-5 in team turnover rate), they should be able to do enough to beat Indy.
  • The Pacers have attempted the third fewest shots at the rim in the NBA this year, and have taken the seventh most shots from the mid-range area (and they’re in the bottom 10 in mid-range FG%). If New Orleans simply encourages Indiana to keep doing what they apparently like to do, that will help their defense considerably.

Enjoy the game, and more importantly, enjoy the holiday time with your families!

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