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NBA Preview: New Orleans Pelicans look to complete season sweep of Indiana Pacers

Will Brandon Ingram play??

NBA: Indiana Pacers at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

After Thursday’s impressive win over a depleted Chicago Bulls team, the Pelicans (21-31) will look to keep the momentum going against the Indiana Pacers (31-21) Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. This will complete the Pels short two-game road trip through the Eastern Conference.

In the first contest between these two teams, New Orleans cruised to an easy 120-98 win on December 28th. However, that was before the return of rookie sensation Zion Williamson. It will be interesting to see how Zion’s presence changes the dynamic of this matchup. In addition, Indiana was missing Victor Oladipo and Malcolm Brogdon.

Key Match-ups

The Pacers are lead by their talented young front-court players Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner. Both of the Pacer big men are athletic and skilled with the size to give opponents real trouble around the rim. This game could pose as one of the bigger challenges to Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson. While the Pacers front court is not as athletic as Zion, keep an eye on how their size affects Zion’s shots at the rim. On the flip side, neither Sabonis nor Turner have the foot speed to consistently stay with Williamson. They say styles make fights; it will be fun to watch Zion’s speed and athleticism battle the size and savvy of the Pacers front court.

In the backcourt the Pacers are led by fourth year guard Malcolm Brogdon. Brogdon will likely be guarded by Jrue Holiday or Lonzo Ball all night. Indiana relies on Brogdon to get them into their offense and ensure that their talented big men get touches in the right spots. If the Pelicans can make life tough on Brogdon, it would go a long way in keeping Indiana’s already lukewarm offense under control.

Finally, let’s hope Jrue Holiday can get back on track. Holiday has struggled offensively over the last four games. I’m not sure if the elbow is still bothering him or if it is just a good old fashioned slump. Regardless, New Orleans needs Holiday to have a bounce back performance, especially if forward Brandon Ingram misses the game with an ankle sprain he suffered late in the first half against Chicago.

Injury Report

Pacers guard Victor Oladipo will likely miss Saturday nights game. The Pacers have elected not to play Oladipo in back-to-back games for the remainder of this season following his recent return from a serious ruptured quad tendon injury. The seventh year guard played 28 minutes Friday night in a 115-106 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

Pacers forward T.J. Warren is currently listed as day-to-day with a head injury. Warren hasn’t played since sustaining a concussion on February 1st against the New York Knicks.

For New Orleans forward Brandon Ingram is listed as questionable with the aforementioned ankle injury. Besides Ingram, the Pelicans are the healthiest they have been all season. The only other players currently on the injury report are forwards Kenrich Williams and Darius Miller. Miller has been out all season with an Achilles injury and Williams is out with lower back soreness.

Family Affair

Whenever the Pelicans and Pacers meet, it’s always a special game for a few of the players and coaches involved. Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday will once again face his two brothers Justin and Aaron Holiday. In their last meeting Jrue’s younger brother Aaron impressed fans with a 25-point performance; however Jrue got the last laugh, helping the Pelicans beat the Pacers 120-98.

In addition to on court family reunion, there are also ties between the teams coaching staffs. Pelicans assistant coach Jamelle McMillian will try to complete the season sweep on his father, Pacers head coach Nate McMillian.

Where To Watch/Listen

What: New Orleans Pelicans (21-31) vs Indiana Pacers (31-21)

Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

When: Saturday, February 8th, 2019 6:30 PM CST

Watch: FOX Sports New Orleans

Listen: ESPN Radio 100.3 FM