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NBA Preview: The Top 5 Reasons the Pelicans Will Beat the Nets Friday Night

ANAWthing is possible!

Brooklyn Nets v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The New Orleans Pelicans (1-11) play the Brooklyn Nets (8-4) 7:00 p.m. Friday night at the Smoothie King Center.

Zion Williamson will not suit up, and Brandon Ingram has been questionable but missed 6 games now — but there’s genuine hope he’ll return tonight. Josh Hart was ejected a few days ago as a result of a build up of questionable calls and a defensive environment that now allows regular, full contact ... which can stray into straight up fouls. Some youngsters are attracting fans’ attention in a positive manner (Herb!!), while others may be viewed as trade throw-ins or G-League assignees. Oh, and there’s a nice new chapter in the ever-rumbling David Griffin-Alvin Gentry relationship.

The Nets, meanwhile, have won 6 of 7 after a quiet start from James Harden and others. Kevin Durant (29.5 ppg, 58.5 FG% 40.4 3FG%) remains all-world, and you certainly know what’s up with Kyrie. LaMarcus Aldridge is shooting 61.6% and 46.2% from 3, I’ve yet to ever see Patty Mills miss a shot (45.2% from 3), and Joe Harris is maybe the most respected 3-maker in the league (43.6%).

Things couldn’t look any more clear for a rout of the Pels by the Finals-worthy Nets.

Five Reasons the Pelicans Will WIN THE GAME

Nickeil Alexander-Walker

It’s been a rough go so far for NAW, shooting 36% and 27% from 3. His misses look particularly bad, too, clanging high and hard off the rim. When Paul George misses these days, it spins in and out 3 times.

But, hey! There was last game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, home to his more successful cousin, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Maybe a little family affair got his blood pumping?

NAW finished the night with 33 points, a season-high, and high shot attempts count at every level. Alexander-Walker has never struggled to get them up, but it’s gotta wear on a guy when he’s going 2-9, 0-7, and 1-7 from 3 in an earlier string of games this year. Against the Thunder, he made 4 of his 10 3-pointers and got to the free throw line 11 times, by far the most this year. Many games he has had no attempts there. He probably saw his cousin SGA wiggling, weaving and willing his way to the hoop in more ways than you can count. Keep watching Shai: that’s a great skillset to shoot for.

And other parts of Nickeil’s game are coming along, but maybe being overshadowed by the tough shooting start. There’s a great breakdown from our own Mat Isa here about NAW’s defense in the Mavericks game recently. His overall IQ and sense seems to be at a higher level this season, and his turnovers are down despite heavier usage in both shot and pass creation.

It hasn’t been perfect, but if there’s someone who could go off against the Nets, look no further than Nickeil.

The Nets Schedule/Age

These Nets guys are old and tall. They’re also playing maybe the strangest schedule so far, in that they’ve already had a six-game home stand and will now be playing their 5th straight road game as part of a 6-game trip of easterners before ending in Oklahoma City.

Can this road trip allow for a blunder? The team almost certainly flew in after their easy win in Orlando and have spent a bunch of time at Harrah’s or other moonlit establishments? Or maybe they’re just easily bored??

Just a handful of guys are even under the age of 30, with certain pickups like Jevon Carter, Paul Millsap, and James Johnson underperforming. With this many jumpshooters — Durant and Harden are the only guys scoring more than 1.5 points per game on drives (the Pels have six players over 1.5) — will those shots go in? Particularly if those can be shots from the midrange... LaMarcus Aldridge has been HOT. He comes down to earth on Friday night.

The Nets Defense

Yeah, I know: the Nets rank 5th in Defensive Rating at 103.1 points per 100 possessions, how could a good defense be susceptible?

Just as above, these guys are old and tall. I think I’ve seen those screen caps showing the tortoise-level tracked speed of guys like Harden and Durant, and they certainly don’t often utilize quickened pace, other than on quick bursts toward an uncontested rim.

Could Kira blaze by a lax defense while the Nets are still dusting off the cobwebs? Uh huh.

LaMarcus Aldridge? Do I think Jonas Valanciunas can dunk on him? Yup.

Is Patty Mills gonna get crossed over by Herb Jones? Maybe!

Is there a world where Trey Murphy III takes advantage of a Harden misstep? Absolutely.

Blake Griffin would be an interesting matchup against Zion, but against this longer, silkier roster, he may not be quick enough.

And there you have it, FIVE FULL REASONS why the Pelicans will win! Geaux Pels! :)

Who: New Orleans Pelicans (1-11) vs Brooklyn Nets (8-4)

When: November 12, 2021, 7:00 pm

Where to watch: Bally Sports New Orleans

Where to listen: ESPN 100.3 FM

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @Trabeta.