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NBA Preview: New Orleans Pelicans to tangle with Blake Griffin again but this time as member of Detroit Pistons

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Two teams clinging to desperate playoff hopes with an important matchup.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Detroit Pistons Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans (29-26) will look to build off a double overtime win in Brooklyn as they battle the Detroit Pistons (27-28) on Monday night.

Apparently, these Pelicans have some life left. Winning for just a second time since DeMarcus Cousins was lost for the season over two weeks ago, New Orleans is sitting back inside the Western Conference playoff picture. Sure, it’s by the tiniest of margins, yet it’s better than nothing.

When you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on — Theodore Roosevelt.

The Pelicans have done just that and their knot has a name: Anthony Davis. The Brow was special last Saturday night, posting 44 points, 17 rebounds, six steals and three blocks. As AD goes, so typically does New Orleans. The team is 20-10 when Davis scores 25 points or more and 19-9 when he registers two blocks or more.

Davis’ activity level is a good indicator of New Orleans success, and something similar can be said for the new-look Detroit Pistons. In case you missed, Blake Griffin now calls the Motor City home and his well-rounded game has paid immediate dividends. He’s averaging a stout 21.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 6.2 assists, and the Pistons have gone 5-2 with him in tow.

Griffin’s presence has made an enormous positive impact on Detroit’s offense. Prior to his arrival, the Piston’s offense ranked in the bottom third of the league; with him on the roster, they’re a top-10 unit as various shooting percentages and assist and point totals are knocking on the door of elite. It all has to do with better spacing. As a triple threat, Griffin is commanding the respect of defenses much in the same manner Boogie was for New Orleans.

Three Keys to Victory

Keep tags on certain three-point shooters. The Pistons are far from being considered a good long range shooting team, but they have players that will hurt you. Reggie Bullock sits atop the list, but Anthony Tolliver, James Ennis and Langston Galloway must be accounted for. Also, don’t be shocked if Jameer Nelson looks to go off against New Orleans for trading him away in the Nikola Mirotic deal.

Allow Anthony Davis to eat. The Pelicans have proven they rely on their stars, and with no Boogie, it’s all up to AD now. New Orleans is 5-1 when Davis has attempted 25 or more shots in a game so the offense needs to run through him as much as possible — especially since Davis scored a franchise-record 59 points against Andre Drummond several years ago.

Assist in the paint. The Pistons have gone from averaging 43.5 points in the paint to 51.7 with Blake Griffin. Anthony Davis is going to need help. Mirotic has proven willing to throw his body around, but who else will step up to the plate? Rajon Rondo, who came up with 10 big rebounds in the win over the Nets, can still be feisty down low yet the whole lineup needs to make their mark. For instance, the Pelicans could use a better effort than zero rebounds in 44 minutes by E’Twaun Moore.

Geaux Pels!

What: New Orleans Pelicans at Detroit Pistons

Where: Little Caesars Arena

When: February 12, 2018, 6:00 p.m. Central

How: FSNO, WRNO 99.5 FM