Diving into the schedule so far for the New Orleans Pelicans has been a cautionary tale. The beginning of the season is very difficult with multiple match-ups against title contenders (and defenders); December does not get much easier. Through 31 games the Pelicans play 18 times on the road and face a rest disadvantage (playing on the SEcond GAme of a BAck-to-BAck against a rested opponent) seven different times. In the Pelicans favor? One game against the Golden State Warriors on a SEGABABA to open the Smoothie King Center for business. That's it. Minus six on rest advantage, a road heavy schedule, and a new scheme to be installed by a brand new coaching staff. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.
Fear not. 2016 brings gifts, and even begins a day early. During 15 games from New Year's Eve to January 30th the Pelicans have a rest advantage eight times, play eight different opponents who finished below .500, and play just five road games. Topping it all off, the Pelicans face just two back-to-backs and one of those is against the Minnesota Timberwolves at home. If New Orleans hopes to make the playoffs, and indeed improve on their standing, January is the time to make a serious run.
|Date||Rest - NOLA||Opponent||Rest - Opponent||TV||Significant Advantage|
|1/2/2016||1 Day||at DAL||SEGABABA||FSNO||Pelicans|
|1/8/2016||1 Day||IND||1 Day||FSNO|
|1/10/2016||1 Day||at LAC||SEGABABA||FSNO||Pelicans|
|1/12/2016||1 Day||at LAL||1 Day||NBA TV|
|1/13/2016||SEGABABA||at SAC||3 Days||FSNO||Opponent|
|1/15/2016||1 Day||CHA||1 Day||FSNO|
|1/18/2016||2 Days||at MEM||1 Day||ESPN|
|1/28/2016||2 Days||SAC||1 Day||FSNO|
Notice that both times the Pelicans face Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers that the Clippers are on a SEGABABA. Playing the Dallas Mavericks in back to back games rested while the Mavs have a game in the middle is an especially large advantage.
Finishing the month is a seven game home stand (not included above, February 1st vs Memphis) with rest advantage more often than not. Both the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks come into the Crescent City after playing in Houston the night before; hardly an easy opponent. The Rockets and Brooklyn Nets arrive in New Orleans after facing the Dallas Mavericks.
Overall January might be one of the easiest months of the season for the Pelicans. Not only do they face few title contenders (Clippers twice, Houston once) but they have a rest advantage in each instance.
Despite a couple gutwrenching losses last January the Pelicans finished 9-6. A little luck and an even better record isn't out of the question for January 2016.