Coming off of a 114-106 comeback win over Sacramento and winners of two of their last three, the New Orleans Pelicans will look to carry momentum into Saturday night’s matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Interestingly, they may not need it.
New Orleans has history on their side as the team has won six straight games at home against the Cavaliers, with their last loss coming seven years ago in March of 2010.
While a nice fact, it’s not as pertinent as Cleveland’s bumpy start. In this past week alone, the Cavaliers have lost matchups to both the Orlando Magic and the Brooklyn Nets. This early in the season everyone has seemingly been vulnerable, something the Pelicans wish to capitalize on.
Cleveland is hopeful that point guard Derrick Rose will return from his ankle injury Saturday to fill the void left after the Kyrie Irving-trade and hip injury to acquired guard Isaiah Thomas. In the same respect regarding New Orleans, Anthony Davis (knee) could also be set for a return.
Even so, the span without Davis has allowed center DeMarcus Cousins to roam free. Cousins is off to probably the best start of his career, averaging 33 points (2nd in the league), 14.2 rebounds (3rd), and 2.8 blocks (2nd) through the first five games this season.
To pair with that, the Pelicans are finally seeing noteworthy production in their guard play. In the last game against Sacramento, Jrue Holiday rose to the call with 20 points and seven assists along with 18 points and six assists from recently signed veteran Jameer Nelson. Should this level of play continue, New Orleans should be able to compete with the best.
With their limited roster, small in nature, the Pelicans need better production out of the more sizable options. Dante Cunningham has been the starter at small forward, providing very little to the rotation. Cunningham has shot south of 30% from the field this season, limiting the offensive capabilities. In the same grouping is Darius Miller. Considering Miller’s current struggles, averaging just three points and 0.8 rebounds, it is clear he is not quite ready to contribute nightly in the league.
By the numbers from NBA Advanced Stats, this head-to-head is a lot closer than it seems. Cleveland and New Orleans are currently tied in average points per game with 107.4 and sit close in assists with both teams hovering around 21 per. While the Cavaliers shoot better from the field, the Pelicans hold an edge in rebounding as well as three-point percentage.
You can watch the New Orleans Pelicans in action at the Smoothie King Center against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Fox Sports New Orleans. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. CT.
What: New Orleans Pelicans vs Cleveland Cavaliers
Where: Smoothie King Center
When: October 28, 2017, 6:00 PM Central
How: FSNO, WRNO 99.5 FM