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Pelicans at Sixers preview: New Orleans seeks to tame Joel Embiid and stop the bleeding

New Orleans’ season is slipping away fast, can the team come up with a rare road victory?

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans (9-20) will face the Philadelphia 76ers (7-20) Tuesday night at 6:00pm CST inside the Wells Fargo Center. The game will be televised on Fox Sports New Orleans as well as Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, or one can catch all the action on WRNO 99.5FM on the radio.

The Pelicans have lost 8 of their last 10 games, including a disappointing 99-88 loss to the Sixers not two weeks ago. Philly outscored New Orleans by a 47-31 margin in the 2nd half of that contest to shock the home team with the unexpected defeat. Anthony Davis tallied 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a balanced 76ers attack which had five players score in double figures, featuring 23 points by Ersan Ilyasova.

The main threat this time round, though, should be Joel Embiid. Despite an off-shooting night (a 5-15 performance including an 0-5 from three-point range) against the Pelicans, he is by far the Sixers’ most potent weapon. In Philly’s last game versus the Brooklyn Nets, he totaled a season-high 33 points in 27 minutes, propelling the oft-maligned team to a 108-107 victory and their 3rd win in their last 5 games.

For the season, the probable runaway 2017 Rookie of the Year is averaging an astounding 24.0 points in approximately 24 minutes of action in 76er wins. He’s good, damn good, and quite deserving of opponents needing to game plan in order to curb his excellence.

It’ll likely be a tall task for Alexis Ajinca, the Pelicans starting center over the 7 games of the schedule. Ajinca is a solid offensive threat, but his defense leaves much to be desired. Just have a look at the following compilation of his not so recent greatest hits.

Alvin Gentry has remarked that the Pelicans need to figure things out fast, and Tim Frazier specifically mentioned the team needs to get a win against Philly after the loss to the Spurs.

“We’ve got a game in Philly [Tuesday] that we need to win. We got to win that.”

Time will tell.

What to watch

Jrue Holiday. The Pelicans starting point guard has been a shell of his former self since sustaining a turf toe injury. Typically, Holiday is a high usage player for the team, but recently that hasn’t been the case as both his usage and production has noticeable decreased. With Tyreke Evans sitting out the contest (in order to be ready for the Thunder on Wednesday), the team will likely need Holiday to give them something. Can he overcome his consistency issues to provide some sort of spark?

Buddy Hield. The former Oklahoma Sooner star has scored in double figures in three straight games, and he has been on an absolute tear from behind the three-point line during the entire month of December. Buddy Buckets has converted on exactly half of his 46 attempts from beyond the arc, including at least two makes in 8 of his last 9 games. Can the rookie continue to be one of the lone positives in a lost season?

Geaux Pelicans!