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NBA Preview: Pelicans seek to take advantage of injury/COVID ravaged Bucks

Have you noticed? Brandon Ingram Makes Shots. Period.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Well, how about THAT, Pelicans fans?!

The Pelicans are flying free as a bird after a magical, impossible victory thanks to one of the greatest shots in franchise history. They beat the OKC Thunder on Wednesday night 113-110 as Devonte’ Graham delivered his second game-winner of the year. It was real and it was spectacular.

Coming just a moment after an almost-as-unlikely shot by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Graham secured an all-time basketball memory in the great state of Oklahoma, the BEST game-winner by the Pels in that building.

Now, new obstacles lay ahead.

Friday night (probably), the Pels meet the NBA World Champion Milwaukee Bucks. Or will they? COVID-19 and its variants have infiltrated the country and the NBA.

The Chicago Bulls had two weekday games canceled, others like the Lakers, Hornets, Nets, and Kings are getting hit from all COVID angles. Bunches of players are being held out of future games. The NBA and players association have met and will probably meet more to determine protocols for this week, next, and the rest of the season. Just yesterday, Lakers guard Russell Westbrook and Cavs wing Isaac Okoro entered protocols ... it’s getting hairy out there, folks.

Milwaukee’s all-everything Giannis Antetokounmpo is out because of health and safety protocols, as is Bobby Portis, Wesley Matthews and newly-healthy Donte DiVincenzo. Khris Middleton missed the last one with a knee injury (but he’s probable for tonight), and a total of seven Bucks missed their previous game, a win against the lowly Pacers. Even without those folks, the Bucks are 13-3 after a rough start. Jrue Holiday should play, so it’ll be good to see our old friend.

Ingram in Your Eye

Brandon Ingram: fearless shot-maker.

Ingram is taking fewer threes than the previous two seasons by quite a bit: this year he’s taking about 75 percent two-point shots, and his increases are from the long mid-range area. So, even with some of those highlight dunks we’ve seen in recent games, BI is defined by his jumper.

Specifically, since November 29, Ingram is making an eye-popping 71% of his shots from 10-14 feet, per NBA.com. He’s also at a 55% clip from 20-24 feet in that time. Wow, that’s Kevin Durant-esque. These shots are often heavily contested and coming against a set defense and off the bounce — if Ingram can keep possession and get the shot up (or pass it), it feels good. He did hit the HUGE, go-up-3 mid-ranger before the SGA-Devonte’ Graham unlikely shot combo to end the game.

It’s an interesting concept in 2021-22: a young, star-level player taking fewer threes, despite pretty good performances from there the previous two years.

Zion Update

We got one! And, it is QUITE exhaustive, especially compared to earlier (non-) messaging.

He got a “biologic injection” in his foot and will be re-evaluated in 6-8 weeks.

Whoa...

Ok...

2022 here we come!

Geaux Pels!

Who: New Orleans Pelicans (9-21) vs Milwaukee Bucks (19-11)

When: December 17, 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 @Trabeta.