Detroit Pistons head coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy made a big splash a the trade deadline in acquiring Tobias Harris, Donatas Motiejunas, and former Hornet Marcus Thornton. SVG won the admiration of the internet for his shrewd management along with general manager Jeff Bower. Yes, that Jeff Bower. Former New Orleans Hornets GM and once head coach Jeff Bower. I'm serious!
Of course, after winning at the deadline the Pistons went out and lost to the Washington Wizards on Friday night. Trading for Harris in particular was about more than pushing for the playoffs right now, it was about Van Gundy and Bower seeing a potentially crazed market this season (including that for Pelicans power forward Ryan Anderson) and cashing in that cap space early.
Right now the Pistons are still incomplete with a gaping hole behind Reggie Jackson on the bench vacated by Brandon Jennings, who was moved in the Harris trade. With Jrue Holiday still lighting the world on fire off the bench might the Pelicans come out of the Motor City with a victory? Let's take a look at the keys to the game.
Keys to the Game
Finish possessions on defense: Andre Drummond is a monster on the offensive glass. In order to limit his effectiveness the Pelicans must make a concerted effort to keep the Pistons big man from creating second and third opportunities for Detroit. Thankfully, Omer Asik continues to impress since Christmas, posting the fifth highest overall rebounding rate and sixth on defense alone. This should be another game that Asik logs heavy minutes.
Start fast: Last month the Pelicans got on a roll early against a tired Detroit team on the second night of a back-to-back on their way to wire-to-wire victory. New Orleans scored 36 points in the paint in the first half alone led by Tyreke Evans and Anthony Davis. Evans, now out for the season, has been replaced in the starting lineup with Bryce Dejean-Jones while Norris Cole has slid to point guard with (predictably) disastrous results. Despite playing the awful Philadelphia Sixers the Pelicans starting lineup posted a horrendous 85.8 offensive rating. Can New Orleans stay in the game before Jrue Holiday checks in?
Feed Anthony Davis on the move: Stop trying to make Davis posting up happen. Pick and rolls, cuts, or quick isolation work around the elbows should be AD's steady diet. When Jrue Holiday is getting this team moving it is a beautiful machine. Do that more. Make watching basketball fun if we can't dream of the playoffs.
What: Pelicans vs. Pistons
Where: The Palace, Auburn Hills, MI
When: Sunday February 21st, 2:30 PM Central
How: Fox Sports New Orleans, 99.5 WRNO FM