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NBA Preview: Three keys for New Orleans Pelicans in season opener against Memphis Grizzlies

Lots and lots of free throws by Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins would help the cause.

NBA: Preseason-New Orleans Pelicans at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

In less than twenty-four hours time, the New Orleans Pelicans will be playing relevant basketball, yet their opponent will be none other than the Memphis Grizzlies — the team that destroyed the Pelicans by a 142-101 margin less than a week ago to close out the exhibition schedule.

It’s been much too long, but the wait is finally over. The voices of Joel Meyers, David Wesley and Jen Hale will grace speakers far and wide throughout parts of the Gulf Coast again. For the uninitiated, Fox Sports New Orleans will broadcast their first game of the 2017-18 season, with festivities kicking off at 6:30 pm central with Pelicans Live Pregame. Or, if you prefer, listen to Sean Kelley and John DeShazier detail all the action over the airwaves on WRNO 99.5 FM.

Since Preston and I have already talked at length about the opening matchup of the season, let’s jump right to the keys of the game.

Three Keys to Victory

Live at the line. When things were operating smoothly during preseason play, the Pelicans were getting to the line early and often. While Marc Gasol has often given DeMarcus Cousins trouble in the past, perhaps a trimmer Boogie can keep the script in his favor. Also, can a better ball-handling Anthony Davis take advantage of his matchup against JaMychal Green?

Get some positive production from the bench. With Rajon Rondo and Solomon Hill out for the foreseeable future, the bench is going to remain thin for awhile, but that doesn’t excuse the need for contributions. Among Tony Allen, Jordan Crawford, Ian Clark, Darius Miller and Cheick Diallo, one has to think at least two from this group need to positively influence the game if New Orleans is to emerge with a victory. My picks: Clark and Allen.

Get defensive. Although I dismiss the Grizzlies will resemble another juggernaut in the points department, the Pelicans improved defense seen during the 2016-17 campaign needs to show up. Open looks from deep and dribble drives by Mike Conley and other playmakers/shooters need to be kept to a minimum, but it can be done. The Atlanta Hawks held the Grizzlies to 18% shooting from three-point range and forced 19 turnovers less than 10 days ago thanks to good rotations and excellent help defense.

Geaux Pelicans!

What: New Orleans Pelicans at Memphis Grizzlies

Where: Fed Ex Forum

When: October 18, 2017, 7:00 PM Central

How: FSNO, WRNO 99.5 FM