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NBA Preview: New Orleans Pelicans seek to overcome Portland home odds, Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum

The Pelicans mammoth frontcourt or the Trail Blazers dynamic backcourt, who you got?

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans (1-2) aim to start a winning streak after their victory against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Portland Trail Blazers (2-1) enter the game coming off their first loss of the season to the Milwaukee Bucks but hope to recover in their home opener. Fortunately for them, history is on their side — the Trail Blazers haven’t lost a home opener in 16 years!

Expect the Pelicans to pursue attacking a weaker frontcourt featuring Al-Farouq Aminu and Jusuf Nurkic; conversely, they’ll need to find a way to contain the All-Star duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.

Key Matchups

We know that the Pelicans have the best frontcourt in the NBA and that Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins will cause trouble for any team; however, I am more interested in watching the backcourt. Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore will have their hands full with the likes of some of the best shooters in the NBA.

Against the Lakers, Holiday and Moore held rookie — sometimes people seem to forget that — Lonzo Ball to eight points on 3-13 shooting, but they allowed Jordan Clarkson to score 24 points on 10-18 shooting (3-6 from 3) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 20 points on 7-11 shooting (2-4 from 3).

Portland has a significantly more talented backcourt and has been lighting up the score board often through three games, averaging 116.0 points with Lillard and McCollum accounting for 50.7 of the total. As a team, Portland is shooting 48.6% from three-point range. All of this seems likely to be an issue considering that the Pelicans are allowing 110 points per game so far.

One reason for hope: Portland’s explosive offense could be the result of dominating the boards against lesser bigs. The Trail Blazers are averaging 50.0 rebounds per game while allowing opponents only 35.3. We will see if Davis and Cousins can help keep the ball out of Lillard and McCollum’s hands by ripping down the rebounds on both ends.

Points of Interest

Jameer Nelson seemed to fit well during his first game with the Pelicans despite a meager stat line of five points and five assists in 24 minutes. We will see if that cohesion continues as Nelson gets acclimated with the team and vice versa.

Jrue Holiday had his moments against the Lakers and gave us flashes of the All-Star talent that netted him a 5 year/$126M contract this past off-season, but he needs to be a lot more consistent. Can Holiday become the third man of New Orleans’ Big Three, or should the front office strongly pursue another dominant guard in the Western Conference who recently made headlines by requesting a trade...

Keys to the Game

· Win the rebounding battle

· Limit transition shooting

· Defend the three

· Create space for our bigs to operate

· Limit Turnovers

Game Time

The game will tip at 9:00 PM CST and will be televised on Fox Sports New Orleans. Check back with us after the contest for the game recap after what hopes to be the start of a winning streak!

Geaux Pelicans!

What: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trailblazers

Where: Moda Center

When: October 24, 2017, 9:00 PM Central

How: FSNO, WRNO 99.5 FM