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NBA Preview: New Orleans Pelicans should have opportunity to take advantage of Minnesota Timberwolves

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Tom Thibodeau’s team will be playing on the second night of a back-to-back.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans (11-9) will attempt to get back into the win column against the Minnesota Timberwolves (12-9) on Wednesday evening inside the Smoothie King Center. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 p.m. Central, and your typical sources for basketball, FSNO and WRNO 99.5 FM, will carry all of the action.

The Pelicans lost a hotly contested battle against the same Wolves in their first meeting of the season at the start of the month. With 1:45 to go, the game was even at 98 points apiece. Anthony Davis missed a midrange jumper, but Tony Allen had a fantastic chance seconds later to put New Orleans ahead. Unfortunately, he missed a lay-in at the rim, and then Jimmy Butler converted an and-1 opportunity on the other end, knocking down a ridiculous jumper while getting fouled in the process. Down three with 0:34 seconds left, the Pelicans committed a turnover on their ensuing possession, and that was that.

Following the November 1st loss, New Orleans had a 3-5 record and many were openly pessimistic about postseason odds. Davis and DeMarcus Cousins were putting up big numbers on a nightly basis, but the rest of the roster was far too inconsistent. Fast forward to now and the Pelicans are just one of seven Western Conference teams with a winning record, slotting seventh, two games ahead of the Utah Jazz (at the time of this writing). New Orleans role players have largely come alive, helping lead the team to an 8-4 record since their first meeting with the Wolves.

Minnesota is currently dealing with several important injuries to their roster. Jeff Teague (sore right Achilles) and Nemanja Bjelica (left mid-foot sprain) have each missed three straight games, yet both could be ready to play against New Orleans, as they participated in a Tuesday morning shoot around prior to the game against the Washington Wizards.

Three Keys to Victory

Run, run, run. The Timberwolves are on the second night of a back-to-back and their starters played big minutes in a frustrating loss to the Wizards on Tuesday. Minnesota is 1-2 in SEGABABA this season, but both losses came on the road. Regardless of whether Teague and Bjelica are out, the Pelicans, who have had three days off, need to force the pace to ensure Minnesota’s legs get heavy in the second half. Hey, make Head Coach Alvin Gentry happy!

Finish with rebounding edge. When New Orleans wins the battle on the boards, they usually walk away with the victory. In fact, the Pelicans have won just one game thus far when they’ve finished with a rebounding disadvantage. Limiting Karl-Anthony Towns, Taj Gibson and Gorgui Dieng on the offensive glass should be a priority.

Chase Wolves off the arc. Minnesota is 6-1 when they knock down 10+ three-pointers. Since the Pelicans gave up a world of threes to the Hawks, Raptors (twice) and Nuggets, they’ve done a better job of reducing opponent makes and attempts. This needs to continue so force Jamal Crawford, Butler and KAT to put the ball on the floor.

Geaux Pelicans!

What: New Orleans Pelicans vs Minnesota Timberwolves

Where: Smoothie King Center

When: November 29, 2017, 7:00 PM Central

How: FSNO, WRNO 99.5 FM