Game On: Trail Blazers Host Pelicans on Second of Back-to-Back

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Published: October 28, 2015

The Pelicans look to bounce back after a shaky start to the season in Oakland against theTrail Blazers in Portland Wednesday night (tip off for 9CT). The Blazers lost 4 starters from last season to the competition this summer, while the Pelicans are missing 4 regular rotation players of their own to injury (Omer Asik, Quincy Pondexter, Norris Cole, and Tyreke Evans). Thankfully for the Pels, Jrue Holiday will be making his season debut. Even if it only last around 20 minutes, it will be a big help.

The Trail Blazers come in with a new look this season as the 3rd youngest team in the league. CJ McCollum and Meyers Leonard, Portland’s 2012 and 2013 draft picks, move into starting roles with the departures of Wesley Matthews and LaMarcus Aldridge; Mason Plumlee (2013 draft) comes in to replace Robin Lopez; and Maurice Harkless (2012 draft) comes in with former New Orleans Hornet Al-Farouq Aminu to replace Nicolas Batum.

Meanwhile the Pelicans had 11 players return from last season, but still found themselves with 4 new faces playing important roles in their season opener Tuesday night. Injuries have left the squad with 10 available players for the time being…or 9, depending on how Jrue Holiday is feeling. He remains on a heavy minute restriction.

Still, there is plenty to look for tonight. Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis square off in a match up of 2012 top 10 picks. Lillard won Rookie of the Year over Davis that year, but Davis has grown into the better player since, though you would not have thought so watching him last night. Davis kicked off his 2015 campaign with a pretty poor 5 turnover, 4-20 shooting performance in a defeat to the defending champion Warriors. But ESPN’s #2 player in the NBA gets an immediate do-over on the NBA season’s second day.¬†Hopefully Davis will take some better shots tonight than he did last night, having Jrue Holiday in their as a playmaker should be a big boost for him.

One thing is for sure, the Pels will need to focus on more of the simpler things tonight, like defensive rebounding. Golden State killed New Orleans on the glass and it showed. A rebound margin of 33-56 (8-21 offensive) helped G.S. to put up 13 more shots than N.O., despite have more turnovers. The Pelicans are really missing Asik.

Seeing the Davis we all know and love is the main key to this game for the Pels. If he comes out and shows us the MVP Davis the Pelicans should come away with a win. But some other things the Pels should focus on are:

  • Damian Lillard – Last night the Pels lost to Stephen Curry more than anything else. They couldn’t keep him out of the paint and they couldn’t close out quick enough on 3’s. Lillard isn’t Curry but he does have the range, he is the first option, and he does look to score. Having Holiday back as a defensive stopper will help but when he sits the Pelicans need to have better defense at the point of attack.
  • The Stretch Bigs – Meyers Leonard and Ryan Anderson can both space the floor, but with the injuries, the Pels need more than just spacing from Anderson, they need production. The Vet will see around 30 minutes, he needs to put up more than the 9 points on 7 shots he did last night.

Tip Off for 9CT, flock up and tune in! GO PELS!

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