After beating the Indiana Pacers nearly one week ago, the Pelicans will finally play their second preseason game. They will face the Hawks in Jacksonville Friday evening at 6:00 pm central time. Despite the game taking place some 500 miles away, the schedule makers list New Orleans as the home team.
It is important to note that the Pelicans are making their third straight appearance at this Florida venue during the NBA preseason. With the organization looking to own a Developmental League somewhere along the Gulf Coast, one has to believe Jacksonville is among the favorites considering the attendance figures have consistently been strong.
The Pelicans will be without the services of their two centers atop the depth chart, Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca. According to Alvin Gentry yesterday, "The next guy has to step up."
So who will that be? Does Anthony Davis draw the start at center or does the head coach look to either Kendrick Perkins or Jeff Adrien?
Gentry stated that he wants to hold down the fort in the interim, but these injuries will give him an opportunity to experiment a little more. He mentioned that he is going to play some unusual lineups, and with Tyreke Evans playing for the first time this preseason, Gentry will be inclined to go faster and smaller than usual.
"We'll play some really weird lineups. We want to see how some of the guys react to being in a different position or asked to do different things... We're going to mix it up and see what clicks."
This quote seems to indicate that Davis will not be the only one playing out of position against the Hawks. Perhaps Gentry is also eyeing on fielding some three guard lineups or exclusively playing shooters at power forward like Ryan Anderson and Luke Babbitt.
In tonight's contest, Gentry wants to see improvement in three key areas: ball movement, rebounding and the team having a consistent uptempo pace. If the Pelicans go small, it should help the ball movement and pace, but it's difficult to imagine the rebounding has any chance of progressing.
Gentry dismissed any notions that perhaps the recent injuries to their centers might result in another Draymond Green emerging over David Lee scenario. He believes Asik's rebounding is vital to the team in the long-term and Ajinca "was having as good of a training camp as anyone."