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Wolves at Pelicans: Damage Control

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Minnesota visits an equally dysfunctional Pelicans squad

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Chicago Bulls Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Wolves (25-29) at Pelicans (24-31)

8:30pm CST

ESPN/FS North

After an eye-gouging performance in Orlando last night, Minnesota heads to the Big Easy to take on the Pelicans.

In case you live under a rock, Anthony Davis has requested a trade and somehow did not make his way to Los Angeles by the trade deadline. This undoubtedly was disappointing for both Davis and LeBron James. It really makes you wonder just how good of an agent Rich Paul is. He couldn’t make one front office trade the best player in franchise history for a meh trade package to a team that’s publicly tampered with Davis all year long. Shocking.

Anyways, it sounds like despite the trade request, Davis is still going to be in the lineup for New Orleans albeit on a more limited basis.

So, it seems like AD will play tonight. It remains to be seen how the home crowd will treat him and how his teammates will react to having him back out there with them. I know there’s a lot of feelings involved here, but I am of the belief that having Anthony Davis on the floor will make the Pelicans better. Hot take, I know.

Outside of the Klutch Sports/Anthony Davis drama, I’m genuinely excited to watch Jrue Holiday play basketball again. Jrue is the consummate pro. He’s struggling a bit from the three-point line this year, only hitting on 31.8% of his three-point attempts.

Even with his shooting struggles, he still has the largest on/off differential on the team. New Orleans is 12.4 points per 100 possessions better with Jrue Holiday on the floor than off the floor. For reference, AD’s figure is +7.1.

Holiday is a solid offensive player, but there may not be a better perimeter defender in the NBA. He takes on the toughest assignment every night and makes their lives absolutely miserable. We could type out all the metrics and what not, but sometimes it is better to just watch.

For Minnesota, this probably means that Andrew Wiggins is going to end up squaring off with Holiday. That’s not ideal. Wiggins’ handle is just too loose. I don’t trust him trying to initiate any offense against Jrue.

Ideally, that would lead to Karl-Anthony Towns being the main initiator tonight. He’s shown incredible improvement as a passer, and he should command enough attention to get other players open looks. Whether those players will make their shots remains to be seen, but they should get open ones.

Along the same lines, Dario Saric needs to play 30+ minutes. His shooting and creativity is essential to Minnesota having a competent offense. Dario has been awesome in the past two games, even though the Wolves have dropped both of them. It’s time to roll with Dario and make him an integral part of the offense.

I have to be honest, I’m not super optimistic about this one. Minnesota has shown nothing over the past two games that leads me to believe they’ll win the second half of a road back-to-back.

Bet of the night

I’m in no way saying that you SHOULD make these bets. I’m not betting them. It’s just a fun extra thing that I’ll be tracking for the remainder of the season. All lines via Bovada.

So, it turns out that placing your faith in the Wolves to win road games is a horrible strategy. I’m not going to make that mistake again, after last night’s loss put us at 2-5 on the year. That’s not great. Either way, we keep trying.

The pick: Over 231 (-110)

New Orleans is one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA, while Minnesota has been equally putrid on that end of the floor recently. This should be a fast paced game with a lot of points. The first matchup between these two teams followed a similar pattern, finishing with 237 total points. If anything, Minnesota’s defense has only gotten worse since then and they’ve added Saric to the lineup. Let’s root for points tonight.

Projected Lineups

Wolves

Isaiah Canaan

Josh Okogie

Andrew Wiggins

Taj Gibson

Karl-Anthony Towns

Pelicans

Frank Jackson

Jrue Holiday

Darius Miller

Julius Randle

Anthony Davis