After a very difficult stretch to open the season the schedule lightens up ever so slightly in December for the New Orleans Pelicans. Anthony Davis and company face just three back-to-backs during the month of December although the opponents each time are no cake walk.
December continues to lack legitimate cupcakes and starts off with three championship contenders; the Memphis Grizzlies, Houston Rockets, and Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James against Anthony Davis finds its way to a national TV broadcast on ESPN. In order to accommodate ESPN the start time has been pushed back from the traditional 7:00 PM tip off to 8:30 PM. That December 4th game is the only home game effected so during the 2015-16 season.
|Date||Rest - NOLA||Opponent||Rest - Opponent||TV||Significant Advantage|
|12/1/2015||2 Days||MEM||1 Day||FSNO|
|12/2/2015||SEGABABA||at HOU||1 Day||NBA TV||Opponent|
|12/4/2015||1 Day||CLE||2 Days||ESPN|
|12/7/2015||2 Days||BOS||1 Day||FSNO|
|12/11/2015||3 Days||WSH||1 Day||FSNO|
|12/12/2015||SEGABABA||at CHI||1 Day||FSNO||Opponent|
|12/14/2015||1 Day||at POR||1 Day||FSNO|
|12/16/2015||1 Day||at UTH||1 Day||FSNO|
|12/18/2015||1 Day||at PHX||1 Day||ESPN|
|12/20/2015||1 Day||at DEN||1 Day||FSNO|
|12/23/2015||2 Days||POR||1 Day||FSNO|
|12/25/2015||1 Day||at MIA||2 Days||ESPN|
|12/28/2015||1 Day||at ORL||1 Day||FSNO|
That five game road trip is the longest one for New Orleans all season. None of those games are incredibly easy but a 3-2 record there, where the Pelicans struggled last season, could be an early sign for Alvin Gentry's club taking a big step forward. The Pels went just 17-24 on the road last year; keeping themselves near .500 away from the Crescent City is almost required to win 50+ games this season.
You might notice I have lopped off the final game of December, a home tilt against Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers. As you will see that game attaches very well to a theme in January we have yet to see in the Pelicans schedule in later months. Long stretches at home against opponents on a SEGABABA.
So far the Pelicans have held a significant rest advantage only once through 31 games and faced a disadvantage seven times. Those tables turn on New Year's Eve. A record around .500 after 31 games, with just 13 home contests and facing a rest disadvantage in seven of 18 road games, will be an accomplishment.
A slow start will undoubtedly lead to hand-wringing and hot takes. Once again those naysayers could eat those words come April.