The Pelicans have not lost to an NBA team with a losing record in the Smoothie King Center since the start of the second week of the season. At the time, they fell to an 0-3 Orlando Magic team, 103-94. Amid a tumultuous season, the Pelicans can hang their hats on at least performing well against sub-.500 teams within the city limits of New Orleans.
The Brooklyn Nets have been bad all season, but they are now admittedly in free fall. After losing Jarrett Jack for the season and firing Lionel Hollins/reassigning GM Billy King, they are in the midst of posting their worst monthly win percentage, recording just 3 wins against 11 losses.
The Nets have engaged full tank mode, but the Pelicans should remain wary. As recent losers to the Lakers and the Mavericks J.V. team, New Orleans is not allowed to look past an opponent. Among the Nets wins for the month of January are the Thunder, Celtics and Knicks, 3 teams that have easily handled the Pelicans on the season.
These days, the Nets continue to be led by Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, but it's all question marks after that. Some nights, Joe Johnson decides to turn back the clock; others lay witness to a rare Donald Sloan, Shane Larkin or Bojan Bogdanovic sighting. Usually, though, it all adds up to well below average.
3 Keys to Victory
- Slow down Brook Lopez and pack the paint. In the Nets' 3 January wins, Lopez has averaged 27 points a game, a 53.6 FG% and 8 free throw attempts a game. Omer Asik will be tasked with slowing him down, but if recent performances are any indication, he should be up for the task. Additionally, the rest of the Pelican defenders need to help protect the paint a little more than usual. The Nets are a poor perimeter shooting team, ranking in the bottom three of the NBA in three-point field goal attempts, makes and FG percentage.
- Push the issue. For a team that doesn't like to run, the Nets make a lot of mistakes; they turn the ball over 15% of time. That's what bad teams do so the Pelicans aggressive play of late could result in a windfall of easy points. Jrue Holiday, Norris Cole and Toney Douglas should all take turns hounding Brooklyn's point guards -- Donald Sloan and Shane Larkin have turnover percentages that are hovering at or above the 20% mark.
- Seek the good three/hit the three. If Anthony Davis and/or Tyreke Evans are sidelined again, the Pelicans will be reliant on the three-point shot. This will be especially true if New Orleans fails to score a number of transition and second chance points. In the team's seven wins this month, the Pelicans have shot 44.2% (3rd) from deep, in the six losses, 30.6% (19th).