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Game Preview: Pelicans vs. Jazz

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Back in November, the Pelicans beat the Jazz in Salt Lake City without much trouble, 106-94. Anthony Davis went for a career high of 43 points, yet even that was overshadowed by Eric Gordon going down with a torn labrum. For a period afterwards, the Pelicans had issues figuring out how best to fill his spot in the starting lineup, but fortunately, they were able to settle on Luke Babbitt here in December.

Since our last meeting, the Jazz have spiraled down the standings, winning only 1 game out of ten chances. Usually, they've been in most of those match-ups, but let's not sugarcoat it, they're not a very good team, not by Western Conference standards.

In these last ten games, Gordon Hayward has cooled significantly from his hot start to the season by reverting back back to his inefficient ways: 41.7 FG%, 71.6 FT% and 3.2 TOV. Trey Burke? 12.2 points, 5.7 assists and 1.6 three's but he's having problem finding the bottom of the net (39.0 FG%, 71.4 FT%). Honestly, outside of the steady production of their trio of bigs (Favors, Kanter and Goebert), the rest of the team has really struggled.

3 Keys to Victory

  1. Win in the paint. As mentioned, Utah's bigs have done a solid job and it is also reflected by their 9th ranking in points in the paint and 8th in total rebound rate. A lot will hinge on the status' of the teams starting PF's as they've both missed close to the last 2 games due to injury. If Davis is limited in any way, Jeff Withey should be build on what is turning into a promising year.
  2. Push the tempo. The Jazz commit more turnovers than the average team, are awful are forcing them on the other end and are very content the game moves at a turtle's pace. Unleashing Reke Havoc Evans and prodding Jrue Holiday to continue with his recent stretch of aggressive play should do the trick.
  3. Keep the FT disparity to a minimum. The Jazz are very good at getting to the line but stingy in allowing opponents to get their with good frequency.
One should never look past any NBA opponent, but if Anthony Davis plays as expected, the Pelicans should leave with a comfortable victory. If you haven't heard, they're 8-0 against the worse half of the NBA.

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