Team Records: New Orleans (5-3) at Portland (7-3)
Game Info: 7 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -3
Refs: Tony Brothers, Pat Fraher, Derek Richardson
The Skinny: The Unibrow and the rest of the Pelicans come calling for a Monday night showdown between two of the best young teams in the NBA. New Orleans is coming off a shellacking of the Wolves in their last game and has won four of their last five, losing only a road matchup to the Cavs during that stretch. This will not be an easy one for Portland, even if both Aldridge and Batum play.
Last Season: Portland won the season series 3-1, although all four games were competitive, all were decided by eight points or less.
Projected Pelicans Lineup:
PF: Anthony Davis (Kentucky, 3rd season) – 24.5 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 2.1 APG
SF: Tyreke Evans (Memphis, 6th season) – 16.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 7.1 APG
C: Omer Asik (Turkey, 5th season) – 9 PPG, 10 RPG, 1.5 APG
SG: Eric Gordon (Indiana, 8th season) – 8.1 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.8 APG
PG: Jrue Holiday (UCLA, 6th season) – 16.3 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 6.9 APG
Player to Watch: Anthony Davis (pictured at right) – It was apparent from the first time Anthony Davis played at Kentucky that he was a special talent. A shot-blocking phenom who could move like a guard (perhaps because Davis had a late growth spurt and trained as a guard through much of high school), Davis was an easy choice with the first pick in 2012′s draft. Davis can hit from anywhere on offense, although he is especially lethal close to the rim, where he shoots over 70% for his career. Davis is also an elite rebounder and scarily enough has plenty of room to grow there and in other areas. About the only real concern is his health as Davis has missed a number of games over his first three seasons with what are hopefully non-recurring injuries. He may not be there yet, but Davis is a potential future hall of famer if he continues on this development track and is a fine piece for any franchise to build around.
Did You Know?: Portland is responsible for three of the nine largest blown leads in New Orleans’s (and the original Charlotte Hornets’s) franchise history, overcoming deficits of 27 (11/10/2006), 21 (1/6/94) and 20 (2/20/09) to win.
Song of the Day: “The Pelican Song” by FOG-In honor of the newly renamed Pelicans we present this song which just consists of repeating the word “Pelican” over and over again to a jaunty tune. Enjoy:
Portland: Questionable-SF Nicolas Batum (Knee), PF LaMarcus Aldridge (Illness)
New Orleans: Questionable-C Omer Asik (Back)
New Orleans’s Game:
New Orleans is certainly a team on the rise. Building around the elite talent of Anthony Davis, the Pelicans have assembled a strong roster that is only going to get better. They are particularly stout on defense, featuring two of the best interior defenders in the game with Davis and Asik. Yet, the surprise of this season for them so far has been their offense, which had been a liability and is now quite good as the Pelicans have been held under the 100 point mark only once this season. This might be a little bit misleading since all but one of their wins (a road win over the Spurs) is over lesser opponents. Still, if New Orleans is going to make the jump from lottery regulars to playoff contenders they have to win the games they should and so far they are.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: Win the points in the paint battle. New Orleans is the best in the league at defending the paint. If the Blazers can win that battle, they will win the game.
New Orleans wins if: They make at least 10 three-pointers. When the Pelicans do well, they typically make a lot of three-pointers. If they can do so Monday, they should win.