New Orleans Pelicans Preview: Pelicans Look to Bounce Back vs Suns

Feb 6, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) blocks a shot by Phoenix Suns center Tyson Chandler (4) during the second half at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans won 111-106. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Feb 6, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) blocks a shot by Phoenix Suns center Tyson Chandler (4) during the second half at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans won 111-106. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

After a tough loss last night in Sacramento, the New Orleans Pelicans will look to bounce back against the struggling Phoenix Suns.

The New Orleans Pelicans could not win last night against the Kings.

Tonight will be another game against a fellow bottom dweller out West in the Phoenix Suns.

The Suns currently sit at 17-38, the second worst record in the NBA. Phoenix is really struggling as of late, posting a 2-8 record in their past eight games.

This is a game that will likely be in New Orleans’ wheelhouse pace wise, as the Suns like to run up and down the floor just like the Pelicans.

Tonight will be a game New Orleans will be favorites in. Phoenix does not have a star like Anthony Davis. The Suns also lack a playmaker, like Jrue Holiday.

For the Pelicans, this will be a battle of execution. In their game against the Kings, that was their eventual downfall. They did not run their offense effectively, turning the ball over 17 times. They also turned the ball over 21 times in their last victory, against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Tonight will need to be cleaner. Phoenix has the speed and athleticism to capitalize on their mistakes, just like Sacramento did.

The last time these two teams faced off, the Pelicans held on at home 111-106. This will be the fourth time these two teams have played this year. Every game they’ve played has been decided by five points or less, with two of them going into overtime. New Orleans currently holds a 2-1 edge in the season series.

This game will also come down to total team production. While Davis and Holiday have been doing their share, injuries have switched the roles of the rest of the Pels’ crew. They have faltered in their ability to give the team the stats it needs to win.

For New Orleans to beat a team they are better than, everyone needs to play to their potential. That includes not giving the ball over and doing their job boxing out on the defensive glass. The Pelicans also need to do a better job not fouling their opponents, when defending. Even against the second worst team in the league, these things are important.

While many are saying the season is already a lost cause, the team still has high hopes. For the New Orleans Pelicans to keep those hopes in realistic striking range, they need to beat the other bottom dwellers. Phoenix fits right into that category. In an odd way, tonight is a must win game for salvaging the season.

Feb 6, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; Phoenix Suns forward TJ Warren (12) blocks the shot by New Orleans Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans (1) during the first quarter at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Feb 6, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; Phoenix Suns forward TJ Warren (12) blocks the shot by New Orleans Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans (1) during the first quarter at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Who, When and How to Watch

When and Where: The game will be played at 8:00 PM CST in Phoenix.

How To Watch: The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports New Orleans and NBA League Pass.

Injuries: 

New OrleansQuincy Pondexter (Left Knee) is out. Tyreke Evans (Ankle) is probable. Terrence Jones (Thumb) and E’Twaun Moore (Personal) are questionable.

Phoenix: Tyson Chandler (Ankle) is questionable. Dragan Bender (Ankle) is out.

Probable Starting Lineups:

New Orleans: PG Jrue Holiday, SG Buddy Hield, SF Solomon Hill, PF Dante Cunningham, C Anthony Davis

Phoenix: PG Eric Bledsoe, SG Devin Booker, SF T.J. Warren, PF Marquese Chriss, C Tyson Chandler

Other Players to Watch: 

New Orleans: Tyreke Evans, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Tim Frazier and Langston Galloway

Phoenix: Brandon Knight, Leandro Barbosa, Jared Dudley, P.J. Tucker and Alex Len

What’s Next for the Pelicans?

The New Orleans Pelicans will play one final game before the All-Star Break. They will head to Memphis for a duel with the Grizzlies. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. CST.

Feb 6, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) against the Phoenix Suns during the second half at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans won 111-106. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Feb 6, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) against the Phoenix Suns during the second half at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans won 111-106. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Key to the Game: Consistency

It does not take long watching the New Orleans Pelicans to realize their problem.

The Pels can be one of the most efficient NBA teams one second, and then one of the sloppiest the next.

Their shooting is up and down game in and game out. New Orleans might possibly be the most inconsistent team in the league.

Players on the team will have double-digit points one day and near zero the next game. Langston Galloway is a hot-and-cold shooter. In all honesty, the same can be said for Holiday, Davis and the rest of the team.

For them to win tonight and going forward, they need to fix this issue.

This is not going to be a problem solved in one contest. The Pelicans have had 55 games to rectify it and have yet to do so. However, they need to make this their number one focus. Forget the short term effects of this focus.

This is a team with high aspirations for years now. They want to rise in the West to be a contender A.S.A.P, for Anthony Davis’ sake. Yet they can not do that as a team that is so inconsistent. If they take the rest of the campaign to focus on finding a rhythm, that can be replicated every night, they will take a big step to get where they want to be in the long-term future.

Prediction

The New Orleans Pelicans should win this game. There is no real reason for them to lose. They are better than the Suns. New Orleans has more talent and is better on paper and has better results on the court.

However, the Pelicans do not look like a team with focus. They look sloppy and out of sync. Add on the fact this is the second of a back-to-back and the Suns are on an extra day’s rest, and this could be a tough test.

More than likely, this will be a closer battle than New Orleans fans originally expect. Still, the Pelicans are the favorites. A game in the 110-108 range in the Pels’ favor is a prediction that can be backed.

Still, do not rule out a Pelicans loss tonight. It will be a tough task, against a young roster hungry to win every game on their schedule. New Orleans will need to be ready to battle for a full 48 minutes and earn a victory tonight.

This article originally appeared on