New Orleans Pelicans Host Portland Trail Blazers

Published: December 23, 2015

Tonight, the New Orleans Pelicans (8-19) finally host the Portland Trail Blazers (11-19), a team they lost to twice, for the first time season. The Trailblazers are the team just above the Pelicans in the Western Conference standings, so, 13th compared to 14th, and a Pelicans win will place the Pelicans just a half-game behind the Blazers. With just one more game in this series, the tie-breaker may be important, so the Pelicans need to take the win for an additional reason, as if they needed one more. The game tips just after 7 pm CT (UTC -6), and is on the Pelicans Radio Network (99.5 FM locally) and Fox Sports New Orleans.

The Pelicans will start Davis, Gordon, Evans, Gee, and Osik. Holiday will come off the bench, and Pondexter and Ajinca remain out. Lillard is out for the Blazers. The Pelicans held a closed practice before the game. It’s unclear if that holds significance, but one reasonable possibility is injury-related performance evaluation.

I’ll recycle this from my recent Trail Blazers preview:

The Trail Blazers have a good offense that relies on offensive rebounding, which can slow them a bit and make them vulnerable in transition. As such, their defense overall is not terribly stout, though they have some good defensive players. They do not generate or commit many turnovers, and they do not rely on getting to the line. Their defense does limit their opponents efficiency.

For the Pelicans to win, I’m looking for some good defensive rebounding, something the Pelicans are actually ok at, and some aggression on offense. They need to pass more, as we’ve been preaching, and Portland may be a team to get that going against. Portland is not really vulnerable to sending people to the line, but some aggression out on the wings, particularly in transition, could pay dividends.

If Portland can keep is slow, have their way on the boards, and have their guards go off, it’s not going to be pretty. That said, this is a winnable game.

This seemed viable before, during, and after the last game, and I think it’s good today. With Asik in over Ajinca and Lillard out, the keys may be even easier to achieve. Also, Holiday’s and Asik’s play show signs of improvement, which underscores “easier.”

I shall underscore “should” twice.

See you after the game.

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