Before the start of this current turbulent stretch against NBA elite (Bucks, Jazz, Suns and Warriors), New Orleans fetching a win against Golden State seemed least likely.
The Warriors sat atop the league when the calendar flipped to 2022, and the Pelicans, who have historically not fared well against tonight’s opponent, were smoked 126-85 on Nov. 5 inside the Chase Center.
Golden State is now the only remaining opportunity still sitting on the board for potential victory during this 4-game death march on the schedule, and fortunately for New Orleans, they might catch a big break.
Stephen Curry sustained a shot to his left quad in Wednesday night’s loss to the Mavericks and said later in postgame that he wasn’t feeling optimistic about his odds of suiting up in New Orleans.
Steph Curry said the way his left quad is feeling, he is “not optimistic” he will play tomorrow against the Pelicans. Doesn’t believe it’ll be an issue that lingers too long, but don’t expect to see him in New Orleans. pic.twitter.com/jitkJgYiRi— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) January 6, 2022
All basketball fans know who Steph is, and New Orleanians, in particular, know the pain that usually coincides with watching the greatest 3-point shooter ever.
In 33 career games versus the New Orleans franchise, Curry is averaging 26.0 points per game and 7.1 assists. His shooting splits (48.5 FG%, 45.9 3PT%, 94.0 FT%) are borderline absurd.
If Curry’s ruled out, it’s not a guarantee that the Pelicans win, but their odds will be much improved. When he’s sat, the Warriors have posted a 3-8 record going back to the start of the previous campaign.
It must also be noted that Golden State’s most lopsided loss this season, a 19-point defeat to the Raptors, came in Steph’s absence.
Whether Curry suits up or not, the Pelicans offense must find that missing spark. Over the last three games, the well has run completely dry — there’s been no efficient scoring.
Struggles tend to come against good defenses — the Bucks, Jazz, Suns and Warriors all reside in the top 8 of defensive rating — but it shouldn’t be a hard and fast rule.
One thing that would help immensely in reversing the team’s poor shooting: Brandon Ingram finding his groove again. The All-Star forward has failed to shoot better than 27.8% from the field in either of the previous two contests.
“Just continue to work,” Ingram said after the 123-110 loss to the Suns. “Continue to stay in the gym. Continue to stay encouraged. Especially by all these missed shots and me being out of it, it’s only encouraging for me to continue to be in the gym and go back and fix everything that’s been going on.”
Let’s hope B.I. finds his rhythm post-injury quickly. When he’s icy cold, it’s a bad omen. In the six games he’s failed to eclipse a 30% field goal percentage this season, the Pelicans are winless at 0-6. Conversely, the team is 12-11 when he’s bettered 35%.
Hopefully, Ingram finds his stroke, and the Pelicans, the win column against the Warriors. Beginning 2022 with an 0-4 record, even if comes against the best teams in the league, would just leave too sour of a taste after the solid play witnessed since about the middle of November.
Who: New Orleans Pelicans (13-25) vs Golden State Warriors (29-8)
When: January 6, 2022, 7:00 pm
Where to watch: Bally Sports New Orleans, NBA 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.