The New Orleans Pelicans will try to bounce back after a tough loss to the Portland Trail Blazers Friday night. On the docket, a trip to Dallas to face a struggling Mavericks team that is completely unrecognizable. After 16 consecutive seasons of .500 or better the Mavs are 2-13. Making this team competitive may be beyond the power of Rick Carlisle. That’s saying something.
At the root of the problem, scoring points efficiently. Dirk Nowitzki has played just five games due to a lingering Achilles injury and may finally be succumbing to his battle with father time. Without Dirk, the remaining Mavs have struggled to score efficiently, ranking 28th in offensive efficiency. Only Jonathan Gibson, a 29 year old rookie, is posting an effective field goal percentage at or above league average in the rotation. Gibson is only in the rotation (and on the roster for that matter) due to injuries to J.J. Barea and Devin Harris.
While New Orleans battled back and ultimately lost to Portland Friday night the Mavericks had their doors blown off by the Cleveland Cavaliers 128-90. It was the Mavs second consecutive loss by at least 20 points. Dallas has lost eight straight games, the longest losing streak since losing 15 straight during the 1997-98 season. Dirk Nowitzki began his rookie year the next season.
There are few, if any, opponents the Pelicans would rather see to get back on track.
What to watch for
Harrison Barnes as a number one option: Barnes is putting up good counting stats (20.6 PPG, 5.7 RPG) on middling efficiency (49.2 eFG%, 53.5% TS%, 16.8 PER). He’s scoring 10.4 more points per 100 possessions compared to last season, but taking 9.5 more shots to get there. Solomon Hill will get the lion’s share of the defensive assignment but it will be interesting to see who else guards the Mavs first option on offense. Jrue Holiday has been defending small forwards a lot in three guard lineups, so he might be one option.
Anyone want second chance points?: The Pelicans and Mavs rank 30th and 27th in offensive rebounding. Will either team pursue those loose caroms off the rim with more ferocity? Portland did so on Friday and it contributed substantially to the Pelicans defeat.
Rotation adjustments: Friday night Solomon Hill took Dante Cunningham’s slot in the starting lineup while Anthony Brown and Buddy Hield gobbled up the remaining minutes at small forward. Alexis Ajinca has been all but banished to the bench. Will Jrue Holiday finally take his rightful place in the starting lineup? How will Alvin Gentry respond to the Mavericks who regularly play just one “bruising” center in Andrew Bogut? It could be time for a lot of small ball with Anthony Davis at center.
What: Pelicans vs. Mavericks
Where: American Airlines Center - Dallas, TX
When: Sunday November 27th at 6:00 PM Central
How: Fox Sports New Orleans or 99.5FM WRNO