The Pelicans have won three games in a row and are sitting two games over .500! Things are looking up! Also, good to see them defeat Dallas, a team that defeated them the previous nine times, the last three seeing New Orleans playing well for most of the game, only for Dallas to pull it out in the final quarter.
Let’s move on to those Philadelphia 76ers? A bit of revenge game for the Pelicans, with the Sixers defeated the Pellies 98-81 ten days ago. During that small streak, Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday were out with injuries. With Davis back into the fold, the Pelicans have a really good chance to win this game. Not to mention, New Orleans looks done with losing those close games to bad opponents, which is fun.
Also, Ryan Anderson being back is huge for the Pelicans. Once Jrue Holiday returns in a couple weeks, the Pelicans will have a nice rotation going. Even if this is a lost season (we’re still in the race, so we’ll see), none of those guys seem to be leaving anytime soon, and Omer Asik is the only free agent.
Back to Philadelphia, The 76ers are on a five-game losing streak, the building continues. Some of the building blocks are being put into place and you're starting to see a bit of what this team wants. Finding Robert Covington and signing him to an efficient four-year deal for cheap money was wise. Michael Carter-Williams, Tony Wroten (get well soon, Tony), Henry Sims, Nerlens Noel, and basketball twitter darling K.J. McDaniels. Then, throw in Joel Embiid on the sidelines and a bevy of draft picks and Philadelphia is building towards something.
Sixers GM Sam Hinkie recently said that the "rebuilding process" is near the end, so I’m curious who they acquire, how they get them, and whether or not all the players listed above are actually a part of the long term plan.
Hey, check out what the 76ers fans and SB Nation site thinks of this game: Liberty Ballers
Stats of Note
The Sixers are last in offensive effiency, which is no surprise. They lack a true number one scorer and have a bunch of young players. However, being a top 15 defense? Something I didn’t see coming. The Sixers work hard and including K.J. McDaniels (An all-around defensive plus) and Nerlens Noel (a pogo stick around the basket), the Sixers have quietly built a solid defense.
Other than the defensive improvement, it’s still a bit ugly. The Sixers are last in turnover ratio, true shooting percentage, assists-to-turnover ratio, rank 29th in assist percentage, and rank below average in rebounding percentage and defensive rebounding percentage. There are small steps of improvement for the Sixers, but it’s still a bunch of large steps to go.
Keys to Victory
Outscore them – This is a bit silly, but this is what the Pelicans need to do. Attack that defense and make them adjust to you. The Pelicans have the talent to crush Philadelphia on the offensive end. The Sixers rank 20th in defensive effiency since January 1st, meaning they’re waning a bit on that end. Having Anthony Davis back, as well as your shooters and a slasher in Tyreke Evans, the Pelicans should be able to put up points in abundance against Philadelphia’s defense.
Crush them on the boards – Omer Asik, Anthony Davis, Alexis Ajinica. You have the players to make life hell for Philadelphia on the glass. This should be a double-digit rebound night for both Asik and Davis.
Play some "small ball" – Evans, Gordon, Pondexter, Cunningham and Davis. I like this idea against this team. The Sixers have a couple defenders out there, but the idea of having Gordon and Pondexter space the floor, running some pick and rolls with Evans and Davis and Cunningham helping by doing a bit of shooting from midrange is something I’m curious.
A bit light, but this game is tough because the Sixers are, well, bad. Geaux Pelicans.
What: Pelicans vs. 76ers
Where: The Smoothie King Center
When: January 26th, 7:00 PM
How: Fox Sports New Orleans, League Pass