It was a thrilling, nerve racking game but the Dallas Mavericks, led by Chandler Parsons, found a way to knock off the Oklahoma City Thunder. OKC is now even with the Pelicans in the loss column at 30 a piece. However, to take hold of the 8th spot, New Orleans must defend its home court and defeat the Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday night. As Giannis Antetokounmpo demonstrated just a week ago, that will be no small task.
Thanks to NBA fans everywhere this game will be nationally televised on NBA TV. Locally, it will be broadcast, as (almost) always, on Fox Sports New Orleans.
Tyreke Evans went down in a heap against the Bucks in the third quarter last week. Thankfully, his teammates found a way to keep the lead and grind out a 114-103 victory. No one was bigger than Anthony Davis, who was absolutely on fire. AD poured in 43 points to go along with 10 rebounds, 6 assists (then a career high), 2 blocks, and 1 steal. It was a virtuosic performance as Davis could not miss from mid range. He also had a couple floaters that simply should not be possible for a man of his size to attempt, let alone convert.
Keys to Victory
Let Him Shoot: Michael Carter-Williams went 5/5 on long twos last game. The Pelicans cannot be discouraged and abandon a sound defensive strategy (let a bad shooter shoot instead of allowing layups) at the first sign of some luck. The Bucks are the worst offense in the entire NBA since the All-Star Break. Trying to take away jump shots from a team that cannot shoot is unwise.
Guard That Man!: Everything I just wrote does not apply to Khris Middleton. Defend him everywhere. Do not leave him to help. Middleton is shooting 44.8% behind the arc on catch-and-shoot opportunities. The next best available Buck, Ersan Ilyasova, is shooting 35.4%. Everyone is available to assist defensively except for the man defending Middleton. I hope that Quincy Pondexter is given the assignment.
Pound the Glass: Milwaukee is not a good team on the defensive glass, rebounding just 72.8% of available defensive rebounds. That's 28th in the entire NBA. New Orleans is 4th in offensive rebound rate. Jason Kidd rolls out length and athleticism by the truck load with nearly every lineup. The game won't be pretty. There will be turnovers. In order to combat this the Pelicans must create additional possessions on the glass while keeping the Bucks from doing the same.
What: Pelicans vs Bucks
Where: Smoothie King Center
When: March 17th, 7:00 PM
How: Fox Sports New Orleans, NBA TV