The New Orleans Pelicans are on an eight game winning streak. Last night they made relatively easy work out of the Dallas Mavericks. A brief and painful adjustment period for the franchise after losing DeMarcus Cousins to injury has made way to a glorious experience for players, coaches, front office staff, and fans alike. The playoffs are in sight and at the tip of every fan’s tongue.
Make no mistake, the playoffs for the Pelicans have already begun.
Every game feels like a must win and yet 20 games remain. Seven of those games, starting Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, are against fellow competitors in the 3-10 morass of the Western Conference. 14 of those 20 games, including six on the road, are against opponents over .500. Of the six hypothetical “gimme” wins against opponents below .500 four are either the front or back half of a back-to-back, with a visit by the Los Angeles Lakers on March 22nd wrapping up a hellacious string of five games in six nights.
Anthony Davis is destroying worlds. He is averaging 37.3 points, 14.8 rebounds (including 3.9 offensive), 3.0 steals, and 2.8 blocks while shooting 52.9% from the floor and 37.5% behind the arc over the last eight games. A big part of the reason? He’s been unleashed on the offensive glass. He’s collecting over 10% of available offensive rebounds during the eight game winning streak, on par with his performance in his first two seasons in the league. It’s an increase of over 30% from his offensive rebounding rate this season prior to the winning streak. Who knew that AD crashing the glass would be a good thing? (Hint, a whole lot of writers on this site.)
Davis is not alone in carrying the load as Jrue Holiday is in the midst of the best stretch of his entire NBA career. He is averaging 25.9 points, 7.5 assists, and 4.9 rebounds a game with a ridiculous .550/.407/.789 slash line. On the season Holiday is setting career bests in points and rebounds per game while also blowing his previous TS% best out of the water.
Unsurprisingly the Pelicans are way up into the top seven of all three power rankers. They even rank ahead of the Boston Celtics according to Sports Illustrated. I’m sure the Ringer will come out with their own power ranking soon, putting the Celtics first anytime to adjust for this oversight.
Last Week: 15 - This Week: 7
When he scored a season-high 53 points against Phoenix on Monday, Anthony Davis took just one of 29 shots from 3-point range, scoring 43 of the 53 in the restricted area (where he was 11-for-14) or at the foul line (where he was 21-for-26). As he’s averaged 37.3 points over the Pelicans’ eight-game winning streak, Davis has played stronger inside, and not just in regard to his scoring. His eight offensive boards against Phoenix were one short of tying his career high and he simply outworked the Spurs to the offensive rebound that helped seal a win on Wednesday. The Pels are in fourth place and, after visiting the Clippers and Kings, they’ll play eight of their next nine games at home.
Last Week: 16 - This Week: 7
The Pelicans have won eight straight games, their longest winning streak since January 2011, when Chris Paul led the then-Hornets to a team-record 10 straight. To no one’s surprise, Anthony Davis has been at the heart of New Orleans’ surge to fourth in the West. In the past 40 seasons, only The Brow, Shaquille O’Neal, Moses Malone and Karl Malone have averaged 35 points and 10 rebounds over an eight-game win streak, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. -- James Jackson
Last Week: 10 - This Week: 5
This week’s big winner is the Pelicans! Let’s bring David Kinch back to town, fire up some Po’ Boys and party in the bayou! Without Boogie Cousins, New Orleans has still managed to win eight games in a row. This is honestly a remarkable story. Anthony Davis is absolutely wrecking opponents and single-handedly keeping this team from going away quietly. Can the fun times last? Something to note about the Pelicans’ win streak—three wins have come in overtime, and five have come against sub–.500 teams. So let’s just celebrate while we can.