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NBA Preview: New Orleans Pelicans and Washington Wizards contest shaping up as Jrue Holiday-Bradley Beal showdown

If Anthony Davis is unable to go, a lot of responsibility could fall on No. 11 to lead the Pelicans to a franchise-setting 11th consecutive victory.

NBA: Washington Wizards at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans are riding a wave of enthusiasm unlike anything we’ve seen in the Crescent City since possibly dating back to the Chris Paul MVP race of 2008.

Fresh off of a ten game winning streak, however, the Pelicans’ current MVP candidate, Anthony Davis, is a question mark for Friday’s game, having severely sprained his ankle under the foot of Kosta Koufos in the Pelicans’ Wednesday night win over Sacramento. This, after bruising his ribs the night before in Los Angeles. Woj reports him as doubtful to play against the Washington Wizards.

“It’s like looking in a mirror, only…not”- Face/Off. It can be eerie looking into the face of an opponent and seeing one’s self, and that’s what the Pelicans should be prepared for this Friday night.

There will be no sympathy coming from Head Coach Scott Brooks and the Washington Wizards, who come in with their own set of maladies. At a record of 37-28 and a fourth seed, the Wizards find themselves in their own dog race in the Eastern Conference, looking up at the standings at the third seeded Cavaliers, 38-26, the fifth seeded Pacers, 37-28, and sixth seeded 76ers, 36-28.

Every game counts for Washington’s squad, just as it does for the fourth-seeded Pelicans, and health is not on their side either. Since the Wizards last faced the Pelicans in a 116-106 victory on December 21st, they have largely been without John Wall, but it’s not necessarily been the worst thing. At 26-22 with a “healthy” Wall, the Wizards are now 11-6 led by point guard Tomas Satoransky, who has shined brightly in a prominent role.

According to Bradley Beal: “Everybody Eats.”

In addition, Otto Porter Jr. continues battling a bruised hip that has him listed as questionable for the contest.

So, this matchup is likely to come down to to Jrue Holiday and Beal.

In the past ten games, Jrue has been sensational, averaging 26, 9, and 5, while shooting over 50% from the field and over 40% from three. Plus, he’s been sure-handed in the turnover department and has played sensational lock down defense.

In the past three games, Beal has been averaging 25 ppg on 48% shooting from three on eight attempts per game!

But Jake Whitacre of Bullets Forever fears Beal has taken on too much responsibility as of late. While Jrue Holiday remains a league leader in minutes per game at fifth with 36.6, Beal sits above him at fourth, 36.7.

Markief Morris continues his solid play, averaging double digits on 48% and 38% shooting respectively, while Kelly Oubre Jr. might be asked to start in Porter’s place. At five three point attempts per game, he can be dangerous at over 36%.

Pelicans will also be forced to deal with three point assassin and reserve Mike Scott, who hung 24 points on the Pelicans’ in their previous encounter.

The Wizards won’t mind a shootout, as they sit 10th in scoring, or a defensive slugfest at 13th. They are exceptional at creating turnovers, passing, limiting fast breaks, and attacking the offensive glass.

Weaknesses? They don’t score in the paint, don’t defend the glass on the defensive end, foul at a great clip, and don’t shoot the three often, though, they do it well in small bursts.

Should this one come down to the wire, the Wizards have struggled to finish strong in games decided by five points or less, whereas the Pelicans have been exceptional in those clutch situations over the past two months. In addition to a 6-2 overtime record, the Pelicans are 14-4 in the last 18 games decided by five points or less.

Geaux Pels!

What: New Orleans Pelicans vs Washington Wizards

Where: Smoothie King Center

When: March 9, 2018, 7:00 PM Central

How: FSNO, NBAtv, WRNO 99.5 FM