New Orleans Pelicans v. Denver Nuggets

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Published: March 1, 2015

The New Orleans Pelicans are about to play five games in seven nights; and the first game has the makings of being a “trap” game. The Pelicans play the Denver Nuggets at 7 pm tonight. New Orleans goes into Denver having won four straight without Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson or Jrue Holiday. Meanwhile, the Nuggets have lost five straight in the midst of their half-a-fire-sale. Trading away Arron Afflalo and JaVale McGee during the deadline this once proud franchise has lost ten straight at home, and 19 of 21 overall.

But the Pelicans should be wary of a letdown if they want to win a season-high five games in a row. The Nuggets have beaten the Pelicans three times in a row, and six times in a row in Denver.  Speedy point guard Ty Lawson (16.5 ppg, 9.8 apg, 1.3 spg) and behemoth Jusuf Nurkic (7.2 ppg, 6.7 rbg, 1.3 bpg) both can be nightmare matchups for the Pelicans. Kenneth Faried can also be a problem for New Orleans, as he is averaged 22.3 ppg against the Pelicans in the last four games between the teams.

For the Pelicans to win, the keys of the game are:

  • Keep Lawson out of the paint: He is the engine that keeps this offense rolling. In wins, Lawson averages 11.1 assists per game (two more than he does in losses.) Keeping him out of the paint is tough, but if the Pelicans do, they can keep the Nuggets offense sputtering.
  • Keep the Nuggets off the board: Between Nurkic and ‘Manimal’, the team has two ferocious rebounders. Despite having a thin frontcourt with Anderson and Davis gone, the Pelicans can’t let the Nuggets dominate the boards. It is one of the few things the Nuggets do well as a team, and could lead to the kind of fastbreaks and easy buckets that can swing a game.
  • Get to the line: The Pelicans saw what they can do when they get to the line like they did in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game against the Miami Heat. When taking advantage of easy points and setting up the defense, the Pelicans are a scary team. The Nuggets give up the second most free throws in the league this year. The Pelicans should take advantage in order to wrap up their fifth win in a row.
  • Keep the ball moving: The Pelicans are averaging 25 assists per game over their four game winning streak. In order to keep it going, guys like Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Norris Cole, and Quincy Pondexter all have to keep the ball moving like they have been.

 

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