Tonight's matchup between the New Orleans Pelicans and Golden State Warriors is the very definition of playing out the string. The Pelicans are officially eliminated from the playoff picture while Golden State has wrapped up home court throughout the playoffs. Only the return of Kevin Durant provides any intrigue.
Stephen Curry is questionable after banging his knee in Phoenix. DeMarcus Cousins may not play due to a sore Achilles. Anthony Davis, who played 24 minutes last night in Denver, should be available. The Pelicans who played last night looked very "counting down the days to Cabo" against the Nuggets. Maybe a game against the best team in the NBA sparks their interest and effort. Maybe.
What should we be looking for as the season winds down? More minutes for Cheick Diallo hopefully? Diallo was conspicuously absent from the rotation in Denver while Alexis Ajinca and Donatas Motiejunas played heavy minutes. Ajinca is understandable; he has been a consummate professional and could provide value next year as a depth big man. His efforts this season deserve to be rewarded and there remains an outside shot he could build enough value to be traded without additional assets attached this summer if nothing else. Motiejunas? I don't follow. After logging significant minutes in January and February, Motiejunas has all but disappeared since the All-Star Break.
Cheick Diallo, ideally, is in line for a place in the regular rotation next season. He's been remarkably successful in the D-League, yet getting acquainted with the speed of the NBA will take time. New Orleans has the benefit of largely risk-free minutes in these remaining three games to put as much on Diallo's plate as possible. Fourth quarter minutes are nice, but playing Diallo with more starters, even briefly, may provide much needed gravitas to his experience.
There are no keys to victory for this game. Stay healthy, put on a entertaining show, and play the young guys. Accomplish that and success is achieved.
What: New Orleans Pelicans at Golden State Warriors
Where: Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA
When: 9:30 PM Central
How: Fox Sports New Orleans, 99.5 FM WRNO