The New Orleans Pelicans (21-20) get a chance to avenge a disappointing loss to the New York Knicks (19-23) on Sunday afternoon when the two teams clash for a final time this season inside Madison Square Garden.
Most will obviously have the Saints vs. Vikings NFL matchup kicking off at 3:40 p.m Central on their minds — Geaux Saints!!!, but with a 2:30 p.m. tip-off, fans have plenty of time to get in at least the first half of the Pels game.
Why should you invest time in making at least a partial commitment?
Because both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are in uncharted territory.
AD has never been on a New Orleans team that’s been above the .500 mark at the midpoint in any season, and Boogie hasn’t been on a team that still resided inside the playoff bubble past the month of November.
Yes, the Pelicans have been maddeningly inconsistent from game to game, and the surest thing is that the erratic performances will probably continue. However, this imperfect team is all you’ll be left with after the Saints win Super Bowl LII in about three weeks time. (insert favorite prayer emoji)
At least the ride is sure to be packed with plenty of highs and lows!
Three Keys to Victory
Start the game with a heartbeat. The Pelicans started their last matchup with the Knicks in quicksand, falling behind by 15 points in the first half. New York is not a good team, but they have enough talent and veterans to pull off the upset if you let them. If New Orleans can come out with decent energy, by defending, rebounding and staying aware of their surroundings, they should be able to top a Knicks team that has won just twice in their last 11 games.
Have the bigs crash the offensive glass. When Davis or Cousins are active on the offensive glass, New Orleans increases their odds of victory. The Pelicans are 4-1 when Boogie grabs four or more offensive rebounds and 5-4 when AD accomplishes the same feat. It certainly helps to keep a possession going, but the best reason to hope for plenty of OREB from the New Orleans All-NBA combo is it means their activity level is on the good side.
Make life hard on Kristaps Porzingis. Porzingis is a fantastic young player, but he doesn’t get much help from the rest of his New York teammates. Thus, opponents should be able to make life difficult by focusing their defensive energy on him. If not, expect to lose — the Knicks are 9-2 when Porzingis tops the 30-point mark.
What: New Orleans Pelicans at New York Knicks
Where: Madison Square Garden
When: January 14, 2018, 2:30 p.m. Central
How: FSNO, WRNO 99.5 FM