New Orleans is a place where all kinds of streaks have come to die in the last week. On Friday the Los Angeles Clippers entered the Smoothie King Center riding a six game winning streak. Without the services of both Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday the chances of a Pelican victory seemed slim. No matter, as Eric Gordon put the team on his back with scorching hot shooting to put Lob City down 108-103.
Last Wednesday the Denver Nuggets arrived in the Crescent City on a seven game losing streak. The Pelicans must have had one too many smoothies as the brain freeze effected their jump shot as well. 39% from the field and an atrocious 20% behind the arc sunk New Orleans and the Nuggets finally got in the win column, 93-85.
No discussion about the ending of streaks in New Orleans is complete without going back to Wrestlemania 30. The Undertaker walked into the Superdome 21-0 in Wrestlemania. Brock Lesnar, with Paul Heyman by his side, thoroughly dominated the Deadman throughout a slow, plodding match.
The Atlanta Hawks are currently on a 19 game winning streak.
Keys to Victory
Make Shots: Simplistic? Yes. Accurate? Also, yes. The Pelicans are 22-2 when they post a better field goal percentage than their opponent, 3-20 when their opponents win the shooting battle. Winning the rebounding battle (18-11) or taking better care of the ball (12-5) are good in theory. Nothing has a greater effect on this team than the ball going through the basket. This little factoid from John Schuhmann's Power Rankings should give the Pelicans some hope.
There was an Anthony Davis injury scare last week, but with Friday's win over the Clippers, the Pelicans have won seven of their last eight games against the top 10 in the West, scoring 110 points per 100 possessions in the eight games.
Pound the Paint: Atlanta is the second worst offensive rebounding team in the league and a middling 17th in defensive rebound rate. They also do not score at the basket much, attempting just 26.4 shots in the restricted area per game, good for 19th. With Anthony Davis back New Orleans needs to own the paint with as few resources as possible.
Hold the Line: New Orleans allows just 4.4 corner 3-point attempts per game. Only the Wizards and Bulls do a better job at deterring these shots. Atlanta averages seven such attempts a game and they are predictably deadly. The Pelicans tonight must do their best to avoid unnecessary rotations and occupy each shooter. Sagging too far will lead to either open shots or uncontrolled closeouts, leading to further rotations, and ultimately wide open shot attempts.
What: Pelicans vs Hawks
Where: The Smoothie King Center
When: February 2nd, 7:00 PM
How: Fox Sports New Orleans, NBA TV