It's been a long eight days away, but New Orleans returns to the Smoothie King Center Friday evening against the Philadelphia 76ers.
For the most part things were quiet on the Crescent City's front during the All-Star Break. Anthony Davis represented the organization well during his third All-Star Game appearance in Toronto, scoring 24 points on 12-13 shooting and he partook in the Skills Challenge.
After the weekend in Toronto the focus shifted toward what, if any, trades New Orleans would engage in leading up to Thursday afternoon's trade deadline. Essentially every single Pelican not named Anthony Davis was being linked to a bevy of new teams: Milwaukee, Cleveland, Boston, Toronto and Washington, just to name a few, were reportedly potential trade partners for New Orleans. Instead the lone move that was made appeared out of thin air with Miami sending D-League power forward Jarnell Stokes and more than $700,000 in cash in exchange for a "highly protected" pick that The Sun Sentinel's Ira Winderman reports that Miami "likely never will cash in." No Ryan Anderson trade. No Eric Gordon deal. Nobody got suckered into taking Omer Asik's contract. Thanks for nothing.
Where Were We?
For the Pelicans, it's back to the court. New Orleans is 13 games under .500 and at 20-33 are six games out of the 8-seed with four other teams ahead of them. I'm intrigued to see where New Orleans goes the remaining eight weeks of the regular season. "Tanking" is the easy answer but not trading Anderson or Eric Gordon, to me at least, complicates things. What's the plan both short and long term? Is there one or are we just winging this? I feel like the Pelicans' front office is about as indecisive as your girlfriend when y'all want to get something to eat.
You: "Babe where do you want to go eat?"
Her: "It doesn't matter to me."
Yeah it kinda does matter. Compare that to:
Pelican front office worker: "Hey we trading Ryan Anderson or...?"
Dell Demps, probably: "Ehh, it doesn't matter to me."
YES IT KINDA DOES MATTER
Where was I going with this...oh right the game tonight. New Orleans is playing the Philadelphia Trust the Processers. Frankly there's not a heck of a lot of intrigue here aside from Ish Smith making his return to the Smoothie King Center. If you'll remember, Smith was traded on Christmas Eve of all days to Philadelphia in exchange for a pair of second round picks. Really it's been a trade that worked out well for both sides, in his 21 games in Philadelphia Smith is averaging career highs in scoring, 15.3 points, assists, 7.9, and rebounds, 3.8. Good thing New Orleans didn't want any of that action because Norris Cole's been playing like Magic Johnson and John Stockton's lovechild and Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon are both healthy and not making me sad wait...
"Keys" to Victory
Look it's Philly, we don't have to wrack our brains too hard to think of things New Orleans needs to do to beat the 76ers.
1. Score More Points- Should be pretty self-explanatory and achievable. Philadelphia's dead last in scoring in the NBA, averaging around 95 a night. It would serve New Orleans well to have at least one more point than Philadelphia.
2. Shoot Better- this ties into my first super analytical key: science teaches us that if New Orleans is able to get the ball through the hoop at a higher percentage than Philadelphia they should be able to win.
3. Try to win- Philadelphia probably won't want this game all that much anyway, why not oblige them?