Wolves at Pelicans
7:00 pm CST
Unfortunately, this game is on the NBA's very own network, meaning it will probably not be streaming on their very own service and will be one of the hardest games of the year to actually watch for the average fan. In other words, thanks NBA.
The Wolves face a team just above them in the standings for the second straight game, after their home evisceration of a free-falling Suns team. Tonight they are in New Orleans to play the Pelicans, who, after making the playoffs last season, have seriously disappointed this year at 13-27.
In theory the Wolves should have an advantage because the Pelicans played a tough 101-99 loss in Memphis yesterday, making tonight the second game of a back to back, but assuming the Wolves flew into New Orleans last night, who knows how much of that advantage might have dissipated in a haze of late night debaucheries?
At any rate, the Pels are trying to dig themselves out of a horrendous 1-11 start to the season, and while they have been somewhat better since then, 12-16 isn't going to get them back into the playoff picture. The replacing of Monty Williams with Alvin Gentry has not been a positive so far, though in fairness injuries have played a big role for the Pels.
Nonetheless they have taken a huge step back defensively this season, ranking 28th in the league. They allow opponents to make too many shots both inside and outside the arc, and they rarely force turnovers. Their intended "rim protector," Omer Asik, seems to have fallen apart this season and is playing less and less, while All-NBA performer Anthony Davis has simply not become the defensive terror we all expected him to be.
Frankly, Davis is having a somewhat disappointing year all around for a guy who was supposed to enter the MVP conversation this season. Of course, calling a 22 year old who is giving you 23 and 10 a night disappointing shows you just how good he is, but so far it is a bit of an off year for Davis.
His shooting is down across the board, his assists are down, his turnovers up. Instead of that one more step into MVP territory, he's taken at least a temporary step back into merely a no-doubt all-star.
Other than Davis, nobody is really distinguishing themselves this season for the Pels. It's almost as if everyone has arrived at a rut where they are playing well enough that it's not sticking out like a sore thumb but not so well that it's actually propelling the team.
Eric Gordon has been healthy and shooting threes well, which is nice, but doesn't defend or distribute much. Jrue Holiday, back from injury, is having a meh Jrue Holiday season, confirming him as the 2nd best athlete in his family. Old friend Dante Cunningham has actually started 10 games for them and is just not quite good enough for his role. It turns out that this true for the entire team except for Davis when there is not a strong and insistent team defensive concept to keep them afloat.
I suspect this is a team that could really use a roster overhaul around Davis over the next 6 months; we'll see whether they get it.
Hopefully you can find a way to watch, both to root for a second win in a row(!), and also to watch Davis, who remains an incredible talent capable of doing almost anything on a basketball court.
Our blogging buddies are at The Bird Writes. Be excellent.
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