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NBA Preview: New Orleans Pelicans aim to slow down Luka Doncic and Dallas Mavericks for first victory of season

New Orleans takes the Smoothie King Center floor for the first time, host division rival Mavericks

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Dallas Mavericks Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

After coming up short against the defending champion Raptors Tuesday night, the New Orleans Pelicans will play inside the friendly confines of the Smoothie King Center for the first time of the 2019-20 season.

New Orleans hosts the Dallas Mavericks, led by the reigning Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic and the newly acquired Kristaps Porzingis. The Mavericks got off on the right foot to the season after beating the Washington Wizards 108-100 Wednesday night. Dallas’ much hyped Euro duo lived up to expectations in game one: Doncic had 34 points and nine rebounds, while Porzingis, who played his first game in nearly two years, had 23 points and hit on seven of 16 attempts, including three three-pointers.

Jrue Holiday vs. Luka Doncic is going to be must see TV. Holiday, arguably the best two-way guard in the league, will be tasked with checking Doncic, who may one day soon be the best player in the league. But when Jrue needs a break or the coaching staff decides to change things up, Lonzo Ball should be to the task.

I’m also curious to see how Gentry will try to defend Porzingis. Derrick Favors only played 21 minutes Tuesday night and looked a step slow all game long. Does Gentry dare give significant minutes to Jahlil Okafor or entrust Nicolo Melli with the task?

Like New Orleans did in Toronto, Dallas allocated significant minutes to its bench against the Wizards. Five bench players saw action Wednesday night and they all logged at least 19 minutes. One would assume Alvin Gentry and Mavs coach Rick Carlisle will both follow similar formulas and give their reserves significant minutes as the coaches try to find lineups that work over the long 82-game season.

Game two of 82 hardly counts as a “must win.” That said, of the Pelicans first five games, Friday’s game against Dallas is the one game one would expect them to win. New Orleans will have to play Houston the following night and close out October with home dates against Golden State and Denver. That’s as tough an opening stretch as any in the league, and if the Pelicans don’t take care of business on Friday night, an 0-5 start to the season could be in play.

Geaux Pels!

Where To Watch/Listen

What: New Orleans Pelicans (0-1) vs Dallas Mavericks (1-0)

Where: Smoothie King Center

When: Friday, October 25, 2019. 7:00 PM CDT