The New Orleans Pelicans (28-41) will host the quasi-rival Minnesota Timberwolves (28-40) on Sunday evening. The Pelicans will be looking to build momentum off Friday's surprising win over the Houston Rockets and keep their ultra-slim playoff hopes alive.
In case you’ve missed their earlier contests this season, Anthony Davis has routinely used the Pels-Wolves matchups to dispel the notion among NBA intelligencia that Karl-Anthony Towns is the better big man. He's not. In the two New Orleans wins, Davis has averaged an obscene 43.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 threes.
To be fair, Towns has played well too (33.5 points, 13.0 rebounds), but he’s yet to register a Timberwolves win over the Pelicans when Davis has been on the court. Yep, AD is a perfect 4-0 against his UK brethren.
What To Watch
Keep an eye on the secondary guys in this game. Recently the Pelicans role players really seem to be picking up the pace, none more surprising than Solomon Hill. Hill is coming off virtuoso performance against Rockets that saw the forward have his best game as a professional. The much maligned 3-man scored 30 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, and dished out 7 assists!!! Obviously we can't expect those numbers out of Hill every night, but if he remains active, aggressive, and efficient, the Pelicans should beat the Timberwolves and a lot of other teams to finish off this regular season schedule.
Defensively, Hill and his wing mates will need to keep Andrew Wiggins — 29 points in the teams’ last meeting — in check. This task should be made a bit easier with the absence of Zach Lavine who will, unfortunately, miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
Outside of Hill, Jrue Holiday will need to keep the resurgent Ricky Rubio out of the lane to keep him from causing breakdowns in the Pels defense. Look for Holiday to try to limit Rubio to fewer than the 12 assist he had in the previous meeting.
Of course anytime the Wolves and Pelicans square off you have to keep an eye on KAT and AD. The two big men have an unspoken rivalry, in which Davis thus far, has gotten the upper hand. That, however, was pre-Boogie. If DeMarcus Cousins returns to the lineup as planned, it will be interesting to see how the matchups change in a battle of Kentucky bigs.
Is It Hot In Here, Or Is It Just Me?
With reports surfacing that Alvin Gentry is on the hot seat, don't expect the Pelicans to go quietly into that good night. Although it may be preferable for some to watch the team tank in an effort to keep the 2017 draft pick, I seriously doubt Gentry is all that fired up about the prospect of watching someone else coach whatever rookie that might be brought in.
With all that said, keep an eye on the continued development of the teams offense in this game, especially the Cousins-Davis tandem on the court together. At this point fans have to pretty much forget about the pick and hope that this team can develop some real momentum and chemistry as they close the season. Whether Gentry returns or not, New Orleans finish could have a big impact on how well the team starts the following season. I don’t know about you, but I’m done starting seasons with like one win in the first ten games.
Come On Back
Follow the Bird Writes on twitter for more updates as we get closer to game time. Also check out the post game recap after what is sure to be another Brow domination of our friends from the great white north.
What: New Orleans Pelicans vs Minnesota Timberwolves
Where: Smoothie King Center — New Orleans, LA
When: March 19, 2017, 5:00 PM Central
How: Fox Sports New Orleans, Fox Sports North, 99.5 FM WRNO