Coming into Friday's match-up, the Pelicans are flying high. They're on their longest winning streak of the season (4) and it's included magnificent wins over the Heat, Nets and Clippers. Their opponent tonight is at least several notches below this tier, as the Jazz have won merely two games in their last fifteen.
Utah's best player over the last 10 games has been Derrick Favors: 14.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.4 steals/blocks. However, he's recently been moved from center to power forward to allow Enes Kanter back into the starting lineup. Hope he's prepared as Anthony Davis awaits.
3 things to watch:
- Front court battle. Utah still hopes Favors and Kanter will be a big part of their future but they face an enormous challenge tonight. Thanks to AD and Tyreke Evans, the Pelicans have the 3rd best frontcourt in the NBA the last ten 10 games and they've been the 5th most productive team in the paint during the same span.
- Scoring effectively. During the last 15 games, the Jazz have given up a league worst eFG percentage to opponents at 55.3%. Let's see if the Pelicans can improve on their 51.1 eFG% during the same span. One area to watch will be the mid-range area (10-14 feet). The Pelicans have converted better than any other team in this range while the Jazz haven't (2nd worst FG%).
- Bench domination. In the last 10, New Orleans has had the 9th most effective bench. A lot will depend on whether Eric Gordon and/or Brian Roberts can play, but regardless, we should still maintain a sizable advantage. The Jazz, in their last 10, have had the 4th worst bench and they'll be without Alec Burks.