The Pelicans and Sixers will have their fates intertwined for years to come as we watch Nerlens Noel and Jrue Holiday play out their careers, but this season carries special weight. Every Pelicans loss is an extra chance at a ping pong ball, but too many losses could mean delayed gratification on the second half of the Jrue Holiday trade. The pro-tanking contingent will be kissing their sisters no matter what happens, everyone else...go Sixers!
The good news about the trade, if you want to look at things that way, is Jrue has picked up this season where he left off in Philly last year. He's shooting under 40% from the floor, still doesn't get to the line, turns the ball over too much and his usage rate is too high. It remains to be seen where his career will go from here, but he's not going to help your team with numbers like that and a 25%+ usage rate. You could sort of understand it in Philly considering the team's other options, but he's playing with a budding superstar, the best stretch 4 in the league and a shooting guard who can fill it up in New Orleans (although Ryan Anderson has yet to suit up). He shouldn't be shouldering as much of the load as he is, and his team isn't going to be successful if things don't change.
Ironically, I suppose, Jrue's poor play is a huge boon for the Sixers considering the draft implications of a woefully underperforming Pelicans squad. Tonight, Jrue will look to stick it to the GM who threw him out with the bathwater for his opening salvo this past summer. If the Sixers defend the pick-and-roll like they did last night, the Pelicans should have no trouble scoring and Jrue shouldn't have to worry about heaving long twos.
In the Sixers favor: They can hide Turner on Aminu on the defensive end. Of course, they "hid" him on DeMarre Carroll last night, and that didn't work out very well. Going against the Sixers: The Pelicans did not play last night....and just about every other factor you can think of.
Ryan Anderson will apparently play, not sure if he'll start. Either way, I expect Anthony Davis to be guarding Thad and the other big to be chasing Hawes around on the perimeter. If the matchups work the same way on the other end of the floor, I don't like the idea of Hawes chasing a stretch guy out to the three-point line.
The Pelicans have the third-highest percentage from three in the league, but rarely take them, which makes no sense at all considering their personnel. Maybe you can find a way to use that to your advantage.
All things considered, I'm expecting a big Pelicans win tonight.
The tip is at 8pm. I'll be around, join me if you can.