Game On: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Golden State Warriors

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Published: October 27, 2015

And we’re back! Welcome to the first Game On of the 2015-16 NBA season. The Pelicans are taking on their familiar 1st round foe the Golden State Warriors. Let’s get right into it.

The Golden State Warriors

There’s been a lot of off-season talk about the Warriors and their place in history, but there is no denying their success last year.  To make matters worse for the Pelicans (and the rest of the NBA), the Warriors have retained 12 players from their 2014-15 roster including their top 9 rotation players in terms of minutes played. The biggest loss for Golden State may have been losing associate head coach and current Pelican squadron leader Alvin Gentry.

Obviously, it’s a new year, which means will have to look back to get a feel for Golden State. Last year, the Warriors lead the league in pace and defensive rating. That’s pretty incredible. Oh, they also had the second highest offensive rating behind the Clippers.

Short and sweet, everyone, especially Pelicans fans, knows about this team after their incredible run last year. They play fast, have great shooters and have a swarming defense that’s known to switch a lot on the perimeter. There a tough team to beat, which is why the only lost 15 regular season games last year.

Warriors Injury Report

The Golden State injury report is nothing compared to the Pelicans, but they do have a couple of guys out. Andrew Bogut is expected to play despite a broken nose. The biggest loss for Golden State is probably head coach Steve Kerr, who is recovering from back surgery. Of course, a lot of the Warriors success was attributed to their assistant coaches and their coaching by committee strategy. Conventional wisdom says they’ll be just fine. 1st round draft pick Kevon Looney is also out.

The New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans come into the year banged up, but there is plenty of reason to be excited. The number one reason? Anthony Davis. He continued his incredible ascent last year and looks to be on his way to being the top player in the NBA. Oh, and he takes 3s now.

Outside of Davis, the coaching changes do bring in some new blood and a different system. Gentry will certainly have the Pelicans picking up the pace, however picking up the pace may bring some unintended consequences or trade offs. The Pelicans were a top 10 team in terms of offensive efficiency. That could drop a bit, especially early in the year. The Pelicans are also working on a new defensive system, which may need some time for adjustments. In theory, these changes will improve the Pelicans. In practice, it may take some time. Let’s be patient these first few weeks.

Pelicans Injury Report

Quincy Pondexter, Omer Asik, Tyreke Evans, and Norris Cole are out. Luke Babbitt and Alexis Ajinca aren’t officially ruled out from what I can tell. Still, I wouldn’t expect to see them in this game. Maybe we will see those two late this week or early next week.. Also, Jrue Holiday is still on that pesky 15-20 minute restriction.

Connections

Not really any player connections to mention, but there are a few front offices connections. I’ve already mentioned Gentry, but Pelicans’ associate head coach Darren Errman was also on Golden State’s staff from 2011-14. The most interesting connection comes from Dell Demps, who played for Golden State in the early 90’s.

Projected Starting Lineups

Golden State

PG – Stephen Curry (2014-15 MVP)

SG – Klay Thompson (All-NBA 3rd Team)

F – Draymond Green (All-Defense 1st Team)

F – Harrison Barnes

C – Andrew Bogut (All-Defense 2nd Team)

Pelicans

PG – Jrue Holiday

SG – Eric Gordon

SF – Dante Cunningham

PF – Anthony Davis (2014-15 All-NBA 1st Team, All-Defense 2nd Team)

C – Kendrick Perkins

What to Watch For

  • Jrue Holiday – I’ll be keeping an eye on Jrue’s minutes. It’s so easy to say you’ll limit a guy in the preseason. I think that gets a bit tougher when the games start to count. Also, keep an eye on his defense. Jrue has looked great this preseason, but this is a real test for anyone as Golden State’s guards are phenomenal.
  • Point Guard Rotation – I’m interested to see who gets the rest of the minutes. I assume we’ll see a lot of Nate Robinson and some Eric Gordon. I wouldn’t expect Ish Smith to get significant minutes after officially signing with the team yesterday.
  • Pick N Roll Defense – This is going to be the most obvious change to the Pelicans defense. Golden State doesn’t run a ton of pick n rolls, but keep an eye on our defense when they do.
  • Ryan Anderson – Ryno has looked great so far this preseason. With so many guys out, I’m guessing his usage rate bumps up a bit. I don’t love this match up for him, but he could still put up some nice numbers. Keep an eye on his rebounding. That’s always been an underrated part of his game.
  • Dante Cunningham from 3 – Everyone wants to talk about AD taking threes, but Cunningham also stepped out a lot this preseason. He took 15 attempts from 3 in 7 games! If that doesn’t sound like a lot, consider that the most he’s ever taken in a season was 13 over 78 games. He only hit 3 of his attempts in the preseason, but just being a threat from deep could greatly impact the Pelicans.
  • Center – No one is all that excited about Kendrick Perkins. He may get the start, but I don’t see him getting a lot of minutes. I’m interested to see who takes up the rest of the minutes at center with Asik and Ajinca out. Frankly, I think we’re a bit too rigid with our positions sometimes, and I expect us to see a lot of Davis at the 5. I’m really interested in who we surround him with and what roles those guys play. Also, will we still see Ryan Anderson guarding the center on defense if AD is at center?
  • Anthony Davis – I mean just keep an eye on AD because he’s the most exciting player on the planet. If you need a reason, I’d watch how he plays in this new defensive scheme. On offense, I’m curious to see how exactly he’s used. My guess is we will see the start of new era where he’s at least touching the ball every possession.

You can watch the Pelicans on TNT! The times are changing indeed. The game tips off at 9:30 PM central time.

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