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NBA Preview: Pelicans seek to take advantage of floundering Mavericks squad

New Orleans is on the upswing. Dallas is not.

New Orleans Pelicans v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Over their past 10 games, the New Orleans Pelicans are the most .500 of .500 teams.

Compared to what they were over the first 13, that’s a huge amount of progress.

The Pels have a net rating of 0.0 during this most recent stretch, good for 13th in the NBA. Their defensive rating of 107.8 ranks 15th, and New Orleans is 16th offensively.

Their five wins have come against quality opponents. Two double-digit wins over the Los Angeles Clippers; a win in Salt Lake City over the Jazz; and victories over the Wizards and Grizzlies. An impressive feat against a quartet with a combined record of 48-35.

New Orleans will look to win consecutive games for only the second time this season on Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks.

Dallas has been perhaps the Pelicans’ most difficult opponent over the past three seasons. The Mavericks have won seven of eight against the Pels; however, they come into the Smoothie King Center having lost their last game in New Orleans, and as losers of five of their last six games overall.

The Mavs have struggled to generate any offense as of late, scoring just 102.5 points per game during this current slide.

Dallas’ shooting percentage has hovered in the low 40s and the Mavericks have fallen apart defensively as well.

Opponents are making 11 three-pointers per game on nearly 40 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Teams are knocking down 50 percent of their field goal attempts against the Mavs since Nov. 17.

This seems like a matchup made for the Pelicans to take advantage of. Brandon Ingram looks to be rounding into form after his hip injury, Jonas Valanciunas continues to put up All-Star performances, and the role players have slotted pretty nicely into place.

Dallas has been consistently outrebounded as of late, and the Pelicans have players both willing and able to attack the glass.

The keys for the Pelicans remain the same each and every night:

  • Defend, defend, defend
  • Close possessions on the defensive glass
  • Advance in transition before setting up the offense
  • Move without the basketball
  • Play with confidence

Though, a new one has recently been added.

Antonio Daniels’ turtleneck.

The Pelicans are 4-1 when AD wears the turtleneck, and just 2-16 when he doesn’t.

Of course, we here at The Bird Writes do not officially endorse superstitions of any kind. The game of basketball is determined by skill, talent, teamwork, and so forth and so on.

However, if AD isn’t wearing a turtleneck come gametime on Wednesday night, he bears full responsibility for what transpires on the court.

Just kidding.

Maybe.

Who: New Orleans Pelicans (6-17) vs Dallas Mavericks (10-9)

When: December 1, 2021, 7:00 pm

Where to watch: Bally Sports New Orleans, League Pass

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 @OlehKosel.