I had an epiphany just now.
When it comes to the Pelicans and win streaks, they're like me when I'm at the casino -- which isn't often, I'm not a degenerate gambler yet but I digress. Anyway the only game I'll play is blackjack and I'm too nervous to play extensively and try to, you know, actually win money. If I win two hands my heart rate goes up and I contemplate walking away. If I'm feeling particularly crazy I'll go for a third hand, and if I win that I'm done. Walking away $40 richer than what I was?
My point is that life's too short to not take risks so next time you go the casino don't be like me and only play with $20. Take out everything you have and just go to town with it. Put it all on red, hit on 18, play craps until you need Tommy John surgery because you threw out your arm. Gambling's the most fun thing on Earth because there are literally no consequences at all.*
*The Bird Writes wishes to clarify that gambling is NOT the most fun thing on Earth (that would be bouncy castles) and that there ARE consequences. If you do partake in such activities, please play responsibly.*
So, how do the Pelicans and their attempt at win streaks relate to my undiagnosed addiction to gambling? They don't keep the momentum going. Whenever they win consecutive games, which has happened all of three times this season, they've never allowed it to expand into something bigger. Just like that night I walked out won $200 thanks to a very gratuitous blackjack table, you have to keep at it to see serious results. Tomorrow afternoon against the Grizzlies they have a chance to match their season-best and win their third straight game.
This season Memphis, as has been the case this decade, has been a quietly stellar team led by their slow, yet methodical offense and stellar defensive play. The Grizzlies are 27th in scoring but are allowing the sixth fewest points a game. They're the third slowest team in terms of pace, but are middle of the pack in defensive rating. This team's philosophy is the complete polar opposite of what the Pelicans try to do.
Keys to the Game
1. Freeze Opposing Ball Movement - Did you know Memphis is 21st in assists a game? You'd think having a stud like Mike Conley they'd be higher up the list, but then again, Memphis shoots about 17 threes a game, making only 33 percent of them, so their playbook doesn't feature nearly as many drive and kicks as most other teams. New Orleans may catch a break Monday because Mike Conley is battling an Achilles injury and is questionable. That leads to the possibility of Mario Chalmers starting and Chalmers, to quote Jay Pharoh imitating Stephen A. Smith "Mario Chalmers should not be allowed to have arms to shoot a basketball in the fourth quarter."
2. Rebounding - I didn't believe it when I saw it, but Memphis is 28th in rebounding. How's that happen when you have Marc Gasol and Z-Bo? Then again the Pelicans have Anthony Davis and Omer Asik and they're in the bottom third in rebounding so I should digress. Out-muscling Memphis and keeping them from second chance opportunities will be critical for New Orleans. They certainly can't afford to have Asik, Davis, Alexis Ajinca and Dante Cunningham combine for 11 total rebounds like they did against Charlotte.
3. Start Fast - I mean this both figuratively and literally. The way Memphis plays, they won't come back from a large deficit. High volume scoring, especially from three point range, is not this team's forte. I'm looking for Ryan Anderson to provide a scoring spark off the bench and for Tyreke Evans to get the Pelicans playing faster than what Memphis prefers.