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The Pelicans start their post All-Star march towards the playoffs in Orlando

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Time to put up or shut up.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the Pelicans faced the Magic? It was the first game of the season where New Orleans blitzed Orlando, 101-84. It was actually a close game until the end of the 3rd quarter when Ryan Anderson caught fire from deep and helped create a comfortable margin. Of course, Anthony Davis was a stud (26 points, 17 rebounds, 9 blocks), but it was the play of Omer Asik (14 points, 17 rebounds, 5 blocks) that really had fans excited. Too bad the Turkish delight picked the first game of the season for probably his best line.

What's Changed?

The Magic fired Jacque Vaughn on February 5th and he was replaced by assistant coach James Borrego. Under him, the Magic have gone 2-2 with wins over the lowly Knicks and Lakers, but one of those losses were by just a single point to the Chicago Bulls.

In case you didn't know, Borrego was an assistant for the New Orleans Hornets for several seasons after having worked for the Spurs at the same time Monty Williams and Dell Demps were there.

In the first match-up with Orlando, both Channing Frye and Victor Oladipo missed the game. This time around, all their important rotation members will be available to play in the game.

Three Keys to Victory

  1. Execute offensively. Orlando struggles to score as evidenced by their 6th worst points per game average of 95.7. When opponents have scored 102 points or more, the Magic's record is a paltry 3-21. With both Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson slated to play, the Pelicans should have little trouble putting points on the board against a defense that gives up the 4th worst eFG% to opponents (51.4%). They just have to remember to stick to basics like dominating the paint area.
  2. Shut-down someone. Oladipo, Vucevic and Tobias Harris have been carrying most of the Magic's offense and on opening night, both Harris and Vucevic had efficient nights. Thus, it's important the defense suffocate at least one of the three into an either inefficient or quiet night and, if necessary, force some obscure rotation player to beat them.
  3. Play above the competition. Away from the Smoothie King Center, the Pelicans are 2-9 against the Eastern Conference. That includes losses to some respectable teams, yet this record shouldn't be that dismal. What's done is done, but making a legitimate playoff run starts with notching W's against teams we should beat.
The Pelicans 5 remaining games in February will come against the Eastern Conference; overall, they have an 8-12 record against them. All 9 teams above New Orleans in the standings are well above .500 against the same competition. At a minimum, one would think the Pelicans will need to go 4-1 if they expect to keep pace. Let's start things right and pick up that first win today.

Geaux Pels!