Several days ago, fans got their first glimpse of the new look Pelicans online via a live stream by Pelicans.com. If you missed it, The Bird Writes wrote a recap of the open scrimmage which can be found HERE. However, today represents an opportunity for a better evaluation as the Pelicans get to face another NBA team for the first time since last April.
Similar to the Pelicans, the Pacers announced in the off-season that they were interested in significantly increasing the pace of their play in the future. True to their word, Roy Hibbert was traded away to the Los Angeles Lakers for just a future second round draft pick. Meanwhile, David West decided to take a pay cut and a demotion to the bench by leaving for San Antonio.
With the addition of Monta Ellis, it is expected the Pacers will likely start C.J. Miles at small forward and move Paul George to power forward, joining George Hill and Ian Mahimi in the starting lineup. According to reports, George has made comments expressing his disappointment in the decision and who could blame him? He's now going to be responsible for guarding the likes of Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and tonight, Anthony Davis.
Besides the one-on-one battle between two of the youngest stars in the game, there will be plenty of other things worth monitoring.
1) How will the Pelicans true centers look in a game that is sure to resemble a track meet? Omer Asik will start, but both his minutes, Alexis Ajinca and Kendrick Perkins may be shortened depending on how well they show they can handle the pace of play. New Orleans is going to push the pace all season, but match-ups against other turbo-charged offenses may dictate Alvin Gentry's rotations. If the team's centers have issues with the quickness and speed during preseason, Gentry may be tempted to experiment a lot more with smaller lineups that feature Davis, Ryan Anderson or even Jeff Adrien at the five.
2) Watching Jrue Holiday's role and minute distribution. Holiday is going to be restricted to about 10 minutes per game throughout preseason. Will those minutes come in five minute spurts? Will he spend most of his time with reserves or starters? Depending on what works best in the exhibition season, could cement his role for at least the first two months of the season where he'll be kept on a 15 minute cap per game.
3) How will the minutes be divided between the players towards the end of the bench? Will Corey Webster, Jeff Adrien, Sean Kilpatrick, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Bryce Dejean-Jones all get an equal opportunity or will the coaching staff create a rotation whereby several of them see heavy minutes one game and then the other half of the group in the next?