After defeating the future Hornets last night, the Wizards will travel to New Orleans to face the former Hornets. Here's what you need to know.
Where and when? 8 p.m., New Orleans Arena. CSN Washington.
Are they good? They're the Western Conference version of the Wizards. When they've had their full complement of players, they have been interesting, but that hasn't happened much this year. As a result, the Pelicans have been very good against teams they should beat (14-4 against minus-.500 teams) and very bad against good teams (1-14 against +.500 teams, with the only win coming by two points at home against the Blazers).
Who's out? Glen Rice Jr. and Al Harrington are out for Washington. Ryan Anderson, the silky-smooth shooting power forward, has a herniated disc stemming from this fall and is out indefinitely.
What are they good at? This is a pretty good, but not great offensive team that takes care of the ball and crashes the offensive glass well. You can thank Anthony Davis, the team's budding superstar, for that. Jrue Holiday has been a solid caretaker and a nice upgrade at point guard, and while Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans can settle for bad shots, they don't often cough it up.
What are they bad at? This is not a good defensive team, even with Davis' spider arms patrolling passing lanes and the rim. They try trapping hard, but don't do it well and therefore yield tons of open shots. New Orleans is in the bottom six in three key defensive categories: shooting defense (24th), foul rate (28th) and defensive rebound percentage (27th). A lack of interior defenders combined with a weird scheme causes all this.
Is this team underachieving? On the one hand, the Pelicans have not often played with all the pieces they thought they'd have. Evans was hurt to start the year, Davis broke his wrist and was out for six weeks and now Anderson is injured. On the other hand, this is a team with plenty of talent, but they seem to be playing the wrong style. The offense is good, but would probably be better if they shot more threes and fewer pick-and-pop jumpers. The defense is a train wreck even with a great defensive point guard and Davis. It's worth wondering: Is Monty Williams the right coach for this team?
Who gon' win? The Pelicans are in disarray without Anderson, who is crucial to how they play. They were blown out in Miami last night and now must fly to a different time zone to play the Wizards. I think the Wizards should be able to win this one.
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