It is difficult to remember, but just one month ago the Pelicans were about to attempt the impossible. Win three consecutive games. A season of stops and starts had gone 43 games before New Orleans could string three victories together. Anthony Davis was mesmerizing as he poured in 28 points, 10 rebounds, 5 steals, and 1 block in a come-from-behind 109-106 win over the Dallas Mavericks.
Here we are on February 25th, exactly one month later, and the Pelicans again have the opportunity to win three games in a row. In there way stand the Brooklyn Nets, on a two game winning streak of their own after road wins over the Los Angeles Lakers and self-destructing Denver Nuggets. The Nets have few quality wins to hang their hats on, going just 5-23 against teams above .500 according to the NBA standings.
While the Nets are short on big wins they have beat the Wizards and the Raptors on the road in the last month and a half. This Pelican team may be above .500, but without three of their best players to consider the lineup they will trot out tonight a .500 club is disingenuous.
Keys to Victory
Dominate the Paint: Brooklyn posts a 48.8% total rebound rate. They are poor both on the defensive glass (73.6%, 21st) and offensive glass (23.5%, 24th). They also attempt just 23.4 shots per game in the restricted area (28th in the league) while allowing opponents 27.9 such attempts (22nd). If you want to own the paint against Brooklyn the Nets just are not going to put up much resistance.
Let them Shoot: The Nets will gladly take mid range shots. Let them. Behind the arc only Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, and Alan Anderson are shooting above 30%. Beyond those three players the Nets should be encouraged to shoot as many jump shots as their heart desires.
Push It, Push It Real Good: The Nets are a much older team coming off a relatively comfortable win in the altitude of Denver. Doesn't matter, the Pelicans need to take advantage and run when the opportunity presents itself. Opponents score 14.5 fast break points against the Nets a game, 8th most in the league. Norris Cole has found himself adept at getting the Pels into early offense, even if those opportunities are not technically fast breaks.
Make Those Shots!: In their last two wins the Pelicans have made 41.9% of their three point attempts. When New Orleans posts a higher field goal percentage than their opponent they are 26-2. Missed shots appear to have a negative cascading effect on defensive effort and trust when the Pels are not hitting open looks. If Quincy Pondexter could break out of his cold funk tonight would be a great time.
What: Pelicans vs Nets
Where: The Smoothie King Center
When: February 25th, 7:00 PM
How: Fox Sports New Orleans, League Pass