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The Bird Calls Podcast, Ep. 153: Pelicans prep for regular season with back-to-back against Heat and Raptors

New Orleans second back-to-back of the preseason will force Alvin Gentry to juggle the rotations.

NBA: Miami Heat at New Orleans Pelicans Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans head to Miami losers of their first three preseason contests short-handed and seemingly unenthused.

But remember, Head Coach Alvin Gentry’s decision is strategic in nature, as he likely seeks to sit Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore with the intention of releasing the triumvirate with the rest of the regular rotation before what hopes to be a raucous crowd Friday night at the Smoothie King Center.

Following three forgettable performances against the Bulls, Hawks and Knicks, the Pelicans could use a few more dress rehearsals before Wednesday’s opener with Southwestern rival, and the NBA’s 2017-18 leading win-getter, the Houston Rockets. Then again, it probably doesn’t matter though. After all, it’s only preseason, and most veterans use this time to simply exercise a few reps and get back up to the speed of the game. It’s the NBA fringers who have the most to play for, and ultimately the greatest platform to post a resume.

With or without three Pelicans starters, fans will have much to overanalyze on Thursday night, including the likely return of bowling ball, Julius Randle. After a hard fall against the Hawks, Randle returns to the lineup and will insist on establishing a rhythm with starting point guard Elfrid Payton. Without Davis and Holiday to lead these Pelicans, will they be able to keep up their blistering pace? At 116 possessions per game during exhibition play, the Pelicans have carried out Gentry’s marching orders of displaying a lightning quick offense.

While getting reps may carry urgency for some, there are several opportunities for the youngsters. Garlon Green, Kenrich Williams and Troy Williams will continue fighting for the remaining roster spots and a two-way seat next to Trevon Bluiett. Should Cheick Diallo continue to flounder, the Pelicans may instead add a big man from the post-preseason fodder that will spread throughout the league prior to October 16th when clubs must trim down to 15-man rosters.

Remember this article on the Los Angeles Clippers, and the interesting decision they have to make? The Clippers must trim their backcourt, but somewhere out there, a nice young big man (Khem Birch) will shake loose, and the Pelicans may pounce should Diallo continue his uninspiring play.

What do you hope to see from the Pelicans over the next two games? Is there a specific player you need to see break out? Defensive improvements? An experimental rotation? Comment below, and enjoy our most recent podcast with Kevin Barrios and I!