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NBA Preview: 11-game stretch against Western Conference begins for Pelicans in Denver

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The Nuggets represent a good test against a playoff contender on their home turf.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans (8-7) kick off a long stretch of consecutive games on the schedule against the competition in the Western Conference starting with the Denver Nuggets (8-6).

Despite the similar records, it is important to note this matchup will be played in Colorado, where the Nuggets have won five of their last six games and are 6-2 overall. Although the Pelicans have fared well on the road thus far this season, records have been proven to not be as applicable in contests taking place in the high altitude confines of Denver and Salt Lake City.

Fortunately for New Orleans, they have several things going for them. Surprisingly, history is on their side as the Pelicans have won three of their last four games inside the Pepsi Center. And more importantly, Rajon Rondo is expected to have his minutes increased once again — up to a 20-24 minute range, and Tony Allen should return to the lineup after missing the previous three games.

Three Keys to Victory

Apply plenty of defensive pressure. Although Gary Harris, the Nuggets usual starting shooting guard, should return to the lineup, Denver plays without a typical floor general. Last season Denver circumvented this thanks to the wonderful passing ability of Nikola Jokic and the team executing Chris Finch’s offensive philosophy incredibly well. However, there is a growing sense in the league that applying pressure on the guards (Jamal Murray starts at the other guard position) and crowding Jokic helps to significantly curtail their offense. Go get them Rajon, Jrue Holiday and company!

Win the rebounding battle. The Nuggets are excellent at crashing the offensive glass, ranking second in the league in 2nd chance points, but don’t grab defensive rebounds nearly as well. As we’ve witnessed in several games, the Pelicans have been prone to giving up extra opportunities. If New Orleans can limit Denver to one shot while extending possessions on the other end, their odds of stealing a victory dramatically increase.

Keep turnovers to a minimum. Despite a notable starting floor general, Denver is averaging 14.9 fast break points per game (2nd highest mark in the NBA). Having Rondo play for a longer portion should help, but the Pelicans need to remain mindful of valuing all of their possessions.

Geaux Pelicans!

What: New Orleans Pelicans at Denver Nuggets

Where: Pepsi Center

When: November 17, 2017, 9:30 PM Central

How: FSNO, WRNO 99.5 FM