The Pelicans return to the Smoothie King Center from a three game East-coast road trip Wednesday night. The Pelicans dropped the opener in our nation’s capital, but took car of business in the state of Florida with wins over the Magic and Heat.
Brooklyn’s not quite the atrocity they’ve been the past few years, but New Orleans should be aware of this following last year’s 143-114 massacre, which incidentally I recapped. The Nets are 12-20 and that famed “Brooklyn pick” Cleveland received in the Kyrie Irving trade suddenly isn’t as illustrious as it was in yesteryear. By equal parts, adding talent to the roster and other teams in the East falling by the wayside, the Nets are no longer the league’s biggest pushover.
Like they have for so many weeks now, the Nets backcourt will be drastically different than what they anticipated at the start of the season. Jeremy Lin ruptured the patellar tendon in his knee on opening night and D’Angelo Russell underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in November and is expected to be out till mid-January. Spencer Dinwiddie and and Allen Crabbe have had to shouler the responsiblity for Brooklyn. Dinwiddie, not a very good basketball name tbh, is averaging a respectable 13 points and six assists on a rather inefficient 39 percent shooting. But he overcame a last name like Dinwiddie so my hats off to you, sir. Crabbe, better basketball name, is right behind him with 12 points a night and also shooting right around 39 percent.
That’s sort of how the Brooklyn offense goes: a bunch of guys scoring a fair share of points, but no one particular guy scoring in a large quantity. Russell was the team’s leading scorer at right around 21 points a night, but Brooklyn only had him for 12 games. If there’s a player to watch, it’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson who’s scoring the most points in Russell’s absence, with 14.8 and shooting a team-best 49 percent.
The interesting thing about Brooklyn is that they’re ninth in points per game, checking in at just over 107 a night, but they’re a bottom-five team in shooting from the floor and three, and only 22nd in free throw percentage. It’s inexplicable, really, I can’t figure out how they’re doing it. Despite this, New Orleans had better be ready for Brooklyn’s death by a thousand bricks offensive attack because, somehow or another, they can suckerpunch you and drop 110 out of nowhere.
This homestand is one of the most important stretches of the schedule for New Orleans. After Brooklyn they’ll play Dallas and New York before travelling to a presumed Rudy Gobert-less Utah. New Orleans should be favored to win in all of those games and get further away from the line of demarcation that is “.500.”
It’s time for New Orleans to start making their move up the Western Conference standings.
What: New Orleans Pelicans vs Brooklyn Nets
Where: Smoothie King Center
When: December 27, 2017, 7:00 p.m. Central
How: FSNO, WRNO 99.5 FM