The Pelicans are in the eye of the storm.
While a five game home stand with guests like the Lakers and Mavericks may not seem all too formidable, five games in six nights certainly is, and the Pelicans will need to find time for as much rest as they can. New Orleans will need to collect that rest by bludgeoning their opponents early and forcing surrender.
Enter the Dallas Mavericks, who drag their walking wounded with them to the Smoothie King Center. The Mavericks will be forced to play without their young star, Dennis Smith Jr (ankle), and Wesley Matthews (broken leg). In addition, J.J. Barea, the Pelican killer, was held out Saturday night against the Nets with a rib injury, and is questionable for tonight.
The Mavericks sit at 22-48, at 13th in the Western Conference, and have literally confessed to tanking: “Losing is our best option.” - Mark Cuban.
However, it gets worse for Mavericks fans. In addition to what may be Dirk Nowitzki’s farewell tour, the Mavericks suffered an embarrassing blow when a report published by Sports Illustrated came out: Inside the Corrosive Workplace Culture of the Dallas Mavericks.
There is absolutely no reason the Pelicans should not race out to an early lead, and spell Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday, league leaders in minutes played, for a large chunk of the second half.
- The Mavericks will have to rely on Dirk Nowitzki and Harrison Barnes in this one, and there is not much left else on this squad capable of inflicting damage.
- Dallas is in the bottom ten in nearly every offensive category, and allow third most points in the paint, where Pels will need to capitalize.
- The Mavericks are one of the league’s best in ball control, so the Pelicans’ should not expect many gifts in that respect, and the Mavericks are top five in three pointers attempted and made.
- The Mavs will also seek to slow down the game, as they allow only 83 shots per game. The Pelicans have averaged well over 100 in the past six weeks.
The Mavericks will trot out a starting lineup of Yogi Ferrell, Kyle Collinsworth, Harrison Barnes, Dwight Powell and Dirk Nowitski. Their limited depth should be represented by Nerlens Noel, Doug McDermott, Jalen Jones, Dorian Finney Smith, Johnathan Motley, and Max Kleiber.
If you don’t recognize all of those names, trust that you are not alone.
The Pelicans should be able to wrap this one up nicely, and gather some rest before two battles with the Pacers on Wednesday, and improving Lakers on Thursday.
What: New Orleans Pelicans vs Dallas Mavericks
Where: Smoothie King Center
When: March 20, 2018, 7:00 PM Central
How: FSNO, WRNO 99.5 FM