Jrue Holiday remains without a timetable to return with a stress reaction. Ryan Anderson is also out with an MCL sprain, although recent reports indicate the swelling has abated. Holiday has missed 27 consecutive games. Ryan Anderson has missed 12 this season, including the last nine with that knee injury. Anthony Davis has missed another 12 and portions of three others due to injury. Eric Gordon missed 21 games with a torn labrum.
In the throes of a final battle for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference it increasingly feels like injuries and the schedule will decide the winner. In both those departments the Pelicans find themselves lacking.
Last night New Orleans went on the road and pulled out another big win against the Milwaukee Bucks. Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson did not dress. Tyreke Evans, the iron man of the team so far, went down in the third quarter with a nasty ankle sprain. At that point I would forgive them if the Pelicans threw in the towel. Not only injuries, but a schedule tilted far against them.
Tonight the Pelicans play the Nets. The Nets did not play last night, resting after a 95-88 loss to the Utah Jazz at home on Sunday. This Brooklyn team is in the midst of a five game home stand, they haven't been on a plane since the end of February. They've played just four games in the last nine days. The Pelicans have played six. This is one of four remaining games where the Pelicans will play a rested opponent while they are on the backside of a back-to-back to end the season. A truly brutal bit of scheduling misfortune.
Keys to Victory
Grind: Everything tonight will be hard. Without their primary playmaker of the past two months New Orleans will have to find new ways to score. Brooklyn head coach Lionel Hollins has moved both Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez into the starting lineup recently. Young and Lopez torched the Pelicans on February 25th; only a career high from Quincy Pondexter salvaged a victory. The key tonight is to battle for every inch, every bounce. It is the seventh game in ten days for the Pelicans. In order to keep pace in the West they will need to win ugly.
Contributions from Everyone: Open shots must be converted. At this point we expect Eric Gordon and Luke Babbitt to bury those catch and shoot threes. Quincy Pondexter and Norris Cole need to chip in too when the duty calls. Elliot Williams made two threes in Milwaukee; I hope he remember to get that jumper on the plane to Brooklyn. Alexis Ajinca taking a turn as Hakeem Abdul-Ajinca would be great. Even the still elusive "Jimmer is hot and burns the arena to the ground game" waits in the shadows.
Ride the Brow: The Nets cannot hope to guard him. The NBA can't. Anthony Davis has ascended to another tier of basketball consciousness. He had 43 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal last night. In order for the Pelicans to win tonight Anthony Davis will need to put on an MVP-level performance. Is that too much to ask a 21 year old who played 41 minutes last night?
Does Anthony Davis expect he can do it anyway?
That's the beauty of being 21. Davis does not know what his ceiling is. He's Neo and just beginning to get a grip on his powers. He can dodge bullets. He can fly. What's next?
What: Pelicans at Nets
Where: The Barclays Center
When: March 10th, 6:30 PM
How: Fox Sports New Orleans, League Pass