Happy MLK Jr. Day! The New Orleans Pelicans (20-20) will play the second of an east coast back-to-back when the Pelicans roller coaster show goes to Broadway to take on the New York Knicks (5-36) this afternoon. The Pelicans will try and gain a little bit of momentum after their unexpected road victory in Toronto when the Pels won in exciting fashion on a Tyreke Evans layup with under two seconds remaining.
The Knicks have proven so far this season to be the worst team in the NBA. So, conventional wisdom would lead the reasonable person to believe that the Pels will have put together two wins in a row at the conclusion of Monday’s game. This Pelicans season has been anything but conventional. The Pelicans have followed wins against OKC and Memphis, with losses to Indiana and Boston. The key will be whether or not Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis, who have missed the last 2+ games, can suit up.
The Pels showed yesterday in the game against Toronto that they can beat one of the NBA’s better teams on the road without their two top players. The problem is, the Pels have showed that they can lose to one of the NBA’s worst teams, in their loss to the Sixers, without their two best players. The Knicks are the proud owners of a league leading 16 game losing streak, including their recent 16 point loss to the Bucks. They also rank near the bottom in scoring offense at 92.5 ppg and scoring defense at 101.7 ppg. The Pels and Knicks have met once already in the Crescent City which resulted in a 104-93 victory for the Pels.
The Pels should win this game, even if Davis and/or Holiday do not play. However, if the Knicks find some way to get their sixth win of the season today, please just turn off Twitter for 48 hours.
Taste of NOLA
The Knicks have made a few significant moves since the last meeting, namely trading Iman Shumpert and cutting Samuel Dalembert; their lone "rim protector". The Knicks also have three former Pelicans players on their roster in Jason Smith, Lance Thomas and Lou Amundson. Thomas and Amundson played close to 40 minutes combined in their most recent game versus the Bucks. If my math is accurate, the Bucks do not have Alexis Ajinca. Therefore the Pels should feed Inspector Gadget and his "go-go Gadget arms" en route to a victory.
Check out Posting and Toasting for a Knicks perspective.
Keys to Victory
Don’t let them hang around: As the Pels saw versus Boston, if you let an inferior opponent hang around, they will gain confidence and sometimes, they will make you pay. The Pels need to impose their will on the Knicks right from the tip.
Attack! Attack! Attack!: The Knicks lone hope is that the Pels turn the ball over and settle for jump shots. The Knicks do not have a rim protector that will give the Pels problems. Attack the rim and get to the foul line.
Rebound: Basketball is a simple game. The Pels need to do the simple things and they should have no problems winning this game. The Pels have done a phenomenal job rebounding this season and this needs to continue, especially if AD is not available.
Turnovers: The Pels need to take care of the basketball. If there is one ingredient that will lead to a disastrous outcome, it will be the Pels inability to take care of the ball. If the Pels make the Knicks run their triangle offense and earn their points, the Knicks will be dreaming on MLK day.
Injuries: Jrue Holiday (questionable; shin/ankle) Anthony Davis (questionable; sprained toe)
What: Pelicans at Knicks
Where: Madison Square Garden
When: January 19th, 4:30 PM
How: Fox Sports New Orleans, League Pass