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NBA Preview: Playoffs or not, Pelicans look to keep hot play going against Chicago Bulls

Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are in the midst of building something special for next season.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Pelicans (33-43), wielding an 8-3 record over their last 11 games, take on the Bulls (37-39) Sunday evening (5:00 pm CST) at the Smoothie King Center. The game will air on Fox Sports New Orleans as well as Comcast SportsNet Chicago, or it can be heard on 99.5 WRNO.

Despite postseason hopes all but dashed, New Orleans is riding a nice hot streak and the team will certainly try to keep building momentum going into another early off-season. At the heart of the solid play has been the combination of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. The duo got off to a slow start, but over the last seven games, they’ve been stifling on defense and a terror on offense.

Since blowing out the Portland Trail Blazers on March 14, Boogie is averaging 27.4 points, 2.7 threes, 11.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.6 blocks. Meanwhile, The Brow has contributed per game figures of 26.2 points, 13.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.0 blocks. Both players have been fantastic in the efficiency department, too, averaging less than 3.0 turnovers a game and sporting identical eFG%s.

The duo has been everything fans dreamed of when the blockbuster trade was first announced in late February. Too bad there were too little games left on the schedule to make a difference in the Pelicans postseason hopes.

What To Watch

The Bulls, who will be without guard Dwyane Wade (elbow), lost the last meeting 107-99, however that was pre-Boogie so it will be interesting to see how the match-ups change. The front court will go a long way in determining who wins this game. Chicago starts Robin Lopez and Bobby Portis up front, but they don't have much depth behind them. If the Pelicans can get their opponent into the penalty early and dominate the boards, they should walk away with another win.

On the wings Jrue Holiday and Solomon Hill will likely take turns trying — and likely failing — to guard Bulls All-Star small forward Jimmy Butler. There really isn't much else to be afraid of on the Bulls roster. This one could get quite defensive as both teams have a nagging tendency to go stagnant on offense for long stretches.

Sideshow

With the Pelicans all but eliminated from playoff contention, keep an eye on how hard the team competes down the stretch. Alvin Gentry's seat has essentially melted right underneath his perpetually stressed out blood shot eyes. Clearly the players know he needs a strong finish to pose a solid argument to return next season. Who knows how the off-season plays out but if the players are interested in having this staff return they will need to continue with the strong play seen over the past three weeks (and that might not even be enough).

Next Up

Check back with us after the game for the post game recap. Also check back with us often for updates on the latest Pelicans news. Enjoy the game and have a great weekend.

Geaux Pelicans!!