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NBA Preview: New Orleans Pelicans face must-win against tanking Memphis Grizzlies

The cushion is gone. Time to put up or shut up.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s stick to the facts. After a four-game losing streak, the New Orleans Pelicans (43-34) face a must-win situation against the tanking Memphis Grizzlies (21-56) at home on Wednesday night.

Memphis is bottom-five in points per game, assists per game, rebounds per game, field goal percentage and three-point percentage. It’s pretty bad, but don’t let that entirely fool you. The Grizzlies are 2-3 over their last five games, and those two wins were both against playoff squads in Minnesota and Portland. With the abysmal home-court record of the Pelicans, the current four-game slide and playoff positioning on the line, New Orleans cannot afford to put forth anything less than their best effort.

Not much in recent past has given hope to this playoff push. Jrue Holiday’s aggression, Anthony Davis’ nagging injuries and the ability to compete against high-level opponents have all been brought into question. When you have Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams state the Pelicans guards probe as opposed to attack, most hope for a consistent attack not reliant on Davis (even for small periods of time) seems lost at this point in this season.

Holiday and Nikola Mirotic will be the prime focus of criticism, as it is expected they take their play to another level during this final stretch. Not to say Holiday hasn’t had an incredible season, but six shots through three quarters against the Thunder in a matchup for playoff position just won’t cut it. If there’s any game that could prove to be reset and possible momentum shift into the playoffs for New Orleans, it’s this one.

Look back to the Pelicans last game against Memphis in early January. Holiday was the man of the hour, playing with the scoring mindset New Orleans needs at nearly all costs. He posted 27 points, dished eight dimes and grabbed five boards. Anthony Davis was not far behind with 21 points and 12 rebounds of his own. In the 111-104 win, New Orleans shot 50 percent from the field — despite a rough night behind the arc — and forced 14 turnovers.

All and all, this is a favorable matchup for the Pelicans to revitalize its outlook moving forward. But then again, the Grizzlies have nothing to lose – while the New Orleans Pelicans have everything on the line.

What: Pelicans vs. Grizzlies

Where: Smoothie King Center

When: 7:00 PM

How: Fox Sports New Orleans, 99.5 FM WRNO