The New Orleans Pelicans were unable to start the season in the win column and now take on the Dallas Mavericks on Friday in the home opener.
The New Orleans Pelicans took the defending champions to overtime on Opening Night but were unable to get the best of the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors thoroughly outplayed the Pelicans in the overtime period, defeating them 130-122.
The NBA season is a long one and Pelican fans should not be overly concerned about starting the year 1-0. There were some good performances and great moments in that first game to turn towards and taking the defending champions to overtime, without Zion Williamson, is no small feat.
The Pelicans seemingly have a smaller challenge in the second game of the year as they host the Dallas Mavericks, who began their season with a win over the Washington Wizards.
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The Mavericks are one of several teams that are going to be fighting with the Pelicans for the final postseason spots in the Western Conference and have an all-star duo of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis that is going to be a problem for other teams.
However, the Pelicans actually match up favorably against the all-star duo and the Mavericks. As long as they execute, the Pelicans can absolutely win this game.
First and foremost, the Pelicans have a strong defense that is going to make it harder on Doncic and Porzingis. The backcourt of Lonzo Ball and Jrue Holiday is really good defensively and Ball is going to be extremely important in stopping Doncic.
Doncic is a more advanced version of Ball: a do-everything point guard with size. Doncic matches up very favorably against most guard because of his 6’7″ size, but Ball is right there with his 6’6″ frame.
Ball’s strong defense and strong work ethic on the court is exactly what the Pelicans need to limit Doncic.
The most important defender in stopping Porzingis is going to be Derrick Favors, who is an above-average defensive big man that excels in blocking shots.
The only problem here is that Porzingis is 7’3″, hence why he has been called a unicorn his entire career. Favors is going to have his hands full but he can still use his athleticism and physicality to bully Porzingis around on the court.
The other aspect that gives the Pelicans the advantage in this game is the depth. The Pelicans have a deeper bench than the Mavericks, who are going to rely on Seth Curry and Tim Hardaway to be the best players off the bench.
Dallas can hide this if both of them are draining threes, but it will catch up to them and in this case, the Pelicans’ bench will get the better of them.
The only concern here for the Pelicans is the rotations that head coach Alvin Gentry uses. Gentry’s rotations have been criticized before and he definitely could have managed game one better. However, the Pelicans still have significantly more talent past their top two guys.
Doncic and Porzingis will still have good games but holding them at bay and forcing the rest of the Mavericks to beat them is going to lead to the New Orleans Pelicans’ first win of the season.