As the home-and-home with Dallas comes to a close, the Pelicans are hoping to notch their third straight victory over the Mavericks. If they are to repeat the results of Saturday's game, New Orleans will hopefully blend equal parts old and new.
The old being Anthony Davis having a monster 31 point, 15 rebound game while Norris Cole, Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson each score 16 points apiece; and the new being potential news of good health coming New Orleans' way: on Tuesday the Pelicans PR page tweeted that both Tyreke Evans AND Quincy Pondexter are questionable for tonight's game. Evans missed the game in Dallas Saturday and Pondexter, obviously, has yet to be listed as anything other than "OUT" all season long.
While Pondexter more than likely will not make his season debut tonight, the fact that he's been upgraded on the injury report is promising nonetheless. Pondexter's return means the nucleus will finally be a whole for the first time all season and we can see what this team can really be under coach Alvin Gentry. And for a team that seems to be waffling on "to tank or not to tank," maybe it's worth seeing what the roster can be before blowing it up prematurely. New Orleans is, after all, only four games out of eighth in the West.
As for the game itself New Orleans catches a major schedule break. The Pelicans haven't played since the aforementioned win in Dallas Saturday night, while the Mavericks, meanwhile, were taken to double overtime by Sacramento last night. That being said, Dallas is 5-3 in games in which they have zero days of rest. Furthermore, Dallas' team slashline is better on zero days rest (46/35/81) than their season average (44/35/78). Sports are weird.
Keys to Victory
1. Three Point Play- Despite taking the fifth most attempts in the league, the Mavericks are a middle of the pack three point shooting team. For the year Dallas is shooting slightly below 35 percent from beyond the arc. In their 15 losses, that percent dips even further to 29 percent. When Dallas doesn't have it, they're ice cold. If the three point shot isn't there, and since they played late last night you'd think it wouldn't be, let them shoot as many as their stubborn hearts want.
2. Pace- Going fast is a hallmark of Alvin Gentry's teams. And while the Pelicans aren't quite Ricky Bobby fast, they're still 11th in the league in pace and climbing. Dallas, on the other hand, is 18th in pace and, in case you haven't heard, played a game last night that went into double overtime. The Mavericks' legs should be a little heavy while the Pelicans haven't played a game since Saturday. Run them out of the Smoothie King Center.
3. N.O. Place Like Home- Inside the friendly confides of the Smoothie King Center, the Pelicans average about 108 points. They shoot better from the floor and the three point line at home as well. On the other hand, Dallas hasn't exactly been road warriors this season and have an even 9-9 record through 18 road games. What's curious is that there isn't a sizable statistical variance when Dallas is on the road and at home other than record. For example, remember New Orleans averaging almost 108 points at home? On the road they average about 10 fewer points. Dallas doesn't have anything close to that and yet they go from a near lock at home to a toss up on the road. Maybe tonight those 50-50 odds will work out in the Pelicans favor.