The New Orleans Pelicans (3-0) will play host to the Brooklyn Nets (2-2) tonight, looking to stay undefeated and continue the good times on their four-game home-stand. The Nets come in town very similar to the Clippers — not ready to be anyone’s door mat. Brooklyn will be looking to go over .500, featuring jammed pack athleticism you may not know yet but soon will.
From Jarrett Allen (12.5 points, 8.0 rebounds) and Caris LeVert (21.0 points), to sharpshooter Joe Harris (59.1 3PT%) and the former number two overall pick D’Angelo Russell (13.3 points, 6.5 assists), the Nets don’t immediately appear like much of a task. But as the Pelicans learned last February in what some called a season-changing game for NOLA in Brooklyn, looks can be deceiving.
While much of New Orleans’ press has been a mixed bag the past few days due to controversial comments made by former NBA commissioner David Stern, there is still more good than bad to discuss in the Big Easy coming into Friday’s contest. Before we get into some things to watch for versus Brooklyn, however, here’s some exciting positive commentary from the week involving your Pelicans from a few names you may recognize, and few you may need an introduction to.
As always we have The Bird Writes’ own “The Bird Calls” where superstar Preston Ellis and associate editor David Fisher not only recap Wednesday’s Pelicans Clippers game but Preston reads a couple of mailbag questions. David gives an in depth look at a few elements driving the Pelicans early success. Be sure to be on the lookout for the rest of the gang as well with Oleh and Kevin throughout the week.
The “Dunc’d on Basketball NBA Podcast” featuring NBA Salary Cap expert Nate Duncan and Danny Leroux of realgm.com also dive into Wednesday’s Pels Clippers matchup with scattered joy about the Pelicans with players such as Elfrid Payton, E’Twuan Moore, and Julius Randle all mentioned in detail. Check it out starting at the 45:50 mark.
From Tuesday we have ESPN’s Zach Lowe who was accompanied by Chris Herring from FiveThirtyEight in Zach’s podcast: “The Lowe Post”. Zach and Chris divulge into if the Pelicans are one wing away from being a Finals team and collectively gush over Jrue Holiday. The madness starts at about the 53:42 mark.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get back to Brooklyn and a few things to focus on before tip-off.
Solomon Hill running the show for the second unit?
Alright, maybe that’s pushing things a little, but if you watched Wednesday’s game versus Los Angeles, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
There were multiple possessions throughout the game where Hill brought the ball up the court in a point guard style manner. So much so that if even pressed by a defender, Hill would look to crossover or drive to start the flow of the offense.
If you listened to any recent comments from coach Alvin Gentry, this isn’t something that happened without a plan in mind.
Look for Solomon Hill to continue initiating the Pelicans offense with the second unit. Alvin wants to keep Ian Clark in his more comfortable off-the-ball role. That said coach is eager to settle on a 9-man rotation soon.— Oleh Kosel (@OlehKosel) October 25, 2018
It will be interesting to see if the Pelicans can sustain enough success and pace utilizing an unconventional point guard for stretches, or if the experiment is doomed to failure and perhaps Tim Frazier or Frank Jackson should be given an opportunity.
Will Jrue Holiday break out of his early season offensive slump?
The beauty in Jrue Holiday is no matter how well his shot is falling, his abilities as a defender will always allow him to have a vast impact on any game.
For example: Let this beauty of preparation meeting action speak to you.
Jrue Holiday steal, Solomon Hill slam! #DoItBig— NBA (@NBA) October 24, 2018
WATCH on League Pass pic.twitter.com/I24iR0emBc
That’s just a taste of what Holiday has put out defensively as he’s picked up where he left off last season, harassing whomever he chooses with the basketball.
Offensively, however, he’s got some room to go to match his early season contributions on the other side of the floor. Holiday is averaging 11 points per game while shooting 31 percent from the field. Oh, and he hasn’t connected on a single three-point attempt yet, starting the season off a ghastly 0-for-11.
We all know Holiday will eventually pick things up, and that’s where things get scary. In past seasons, New Orleans needed him to produce much more than he’s shown offensively to win consistently — They couldn’t afford many off nights. This version of the Pelicans though leads the league in points per game (132.0) and offensive rating (124.6) while being third in pace (106.0). So that begs the question:
Where the hell will they rank once Jrue actually find the basket?
I wouldn’t want to be the opposing team that has to find out. Let’s see if Brooklyn becomes Holiday’s first victim.
Taking care of business?
If the Pelicans are the team they’ve shown — and most believe they are — they must continue to build on their early success with a win against the Nets. Similar to the Sacramento matchup, it’s a game that should be tougher than expected, but should also be exited in victorious fashion.
With a back-to-back looming as NOLA’s home-stand ends against the Utah Jazz on Saturday, it would be nice to see the Pelicans be able to rest their starters a little in what should be an even tougher game.
Beyond this weekend, New Orleans goes on a brutal road trip that features four Western Conference playoff teams from a season ago and the 4-1 Denver Nuggets.
Part of being a great team is taking care of the small hurdles to be more aptly prepared for the larger obstacles. Lets hope New Orleans handles the speed bump on tonight and can be full systems go for Saturday.
What: New Orleans Pelicans vs Brooklyn Nets
Where: Smoothie King Center
When: Wednesday, October 26, 2018, 7:00 p.m. Central
How: Fox Sports New Orleans, 99.5 FM WRNO