The New Orleans Pelicans (2-9) will face the Orlando Magic (4-7) on Wednesday evening in Amway Arena. The game will broadcast on Fox Sports New Orleans and Fox Sports Florida, or can be heard over the airwaves on 99.5FM at 6pm CST.
The Pelicans have one of the worst records in the NBA, but it is important to note they have won two of their last three contests. Meanwhile, the Magic have hit tough times, losing four of their last five games.
Despite their four wins on the schedule, the statistics suggest the Magic are not a good basketball team. Their offense is plagued by a lack of scoring; they average a league-worst 92.6 points per game and an anemic 41.0 FG%. On the other side of the ball, they rank 25th in defensive rating, are the worst team at forcing turnovers and give up a ton of offensive rebounds.
Interestingly the Magic get off to even rougher starts than the Pelicans. After the first twelve minutes, Orlando trails by an average of 4.5 points. In comparison, New Orleans faces a 3.8 point deficit. Conceivably, the team that comes out of the gates stronger could very well wind up the winner.
Things to Watch
Evan Fournier. The Magic have lived and died by the performances of their starting shooting guard. In their wins, he’s averaged 20.0 points, 2.8 threes and a shooting line of 50%/47.8%/90.5% (FG%/3FG%/FT%). In losses: 15.9 points, 1.4 threes and a shooting line of 40.6%/28.6%/79.2%. Locking Fournier down should be one of the priorities emphasized by Alvin Gentry and the rest of the coaching staff.
The small-ball lineup. In New Orleans final preseason game, Orlando went on a 13-2 run during the final three minutes of regulation to force overtime. The Pelicans small ball lineup found very little success throughout the fourth quarter.
During the final 10:45 of regulation, the Pelicans made just 5 field goals (on 20 attempts), committed 6 turnovers and were out rebounded by 7 boards. In particular, it was blatantly obvious the small-ball lineup of Tim Frazier, Hield, Solomon Hill, Terrence Jones and Davis was just simply overwhelmed.
Over the last three games, however, the Pelicans have done a better job when Anthony Davis has manned the middle. In particular, Langston Galloway, Buddy Hield and Terrence Jones have been more consistent. Can the trend continue?