The New Orleans Pelicans are aiming to close out their current home stand with a perfect 4-0 record, but they’ll have to beat a tough Cleveland Cavaliers squad tonight.
In addition to sitting fourth in the Eastern Conference, the Cavaliers are arriving on a four-game winning streak, having pummeled those opponents by a ridiculous 21.2 points per game. That stretch includes victories over the Grizzlies and Pacers.
The Cavaliers previously beat the Pelicans, 113-103, in their last meeting on Jan. 13. However, some circumstances have changed.
Donovan Mitchell has not produced at an MVP-caliber clip for weeks. Since suffering a groin injury in that game against New Orleans, his averages (16.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists) have been modest and his shooting, horrific (37.9 FG%, 32.1 3PT%).
There are also positives to report from a Pelicans perspective.
Brandon Ingram has regained his rhythm, posting averages of 30.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists over the last three games.
The defense, which has held opponents to a league-best 34.2 3-point percentage on the season, has been even more stingy of late, limiting the opposition to just a 32.2 3PT% in the last 10 games.
Lastly, Trey Murphy is not only back to launching a higher number of 3-ball attempts, he’s also converting them at a fantastic clip again.
|Month||Games||3PTM per 100 possessions||3PTA per 100 possessions||3PT%|
Following Tuesday’s win over the Hawks, Murphy informed media, “I got the message,” about needing to be more aggressive in looking for his shot.
Sitting next to him for that postgame interview, Ingram labeled Murphy’s 3-point shooting a luxury for New Orleans.
“That’s a luxury to have, especially in these years that we’ve been down a little bit,” Ingram said. “Just to have a 3-point shooter that’s willing to shoot the basketball, and whether it goes in or it doesn’t, he just keeps shooting. He has other parts to his game that he can do, so it’s a luxury to have.”
For a Pelicans squad that is shooting less 3-pointers per game than any other team save the Bulls this season, Murphy is undoubtedly key to raising the team’s number of outside attempts. It’s good to see him trending in the right direction.
In case you missed it, please give our analysis of yesterday’s trade for Josh Richardson. While he isn’t expected to be in uniform tonight, he’ll be with the team.
Who: New Orleans Pelicans (29-27) vs Cleveland Cavaliers (35-22)
When: February 10, 9:00 p.m. CT
Where to watch: Bally Sports New Orleans, ESPN, League Pass
Where to listen: WRNO 99.5
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.