Golden State Warriors at New Orleans Pelicans
Time: 8:30 PM (CT) ESPN
Spread: GSW -11
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The Golden State Warriors disappointed in their opening night contest against the San Antonio Spurs, falling by 29 points on their homecourt despite entering the game as the vaunted favorite most are picking to return to championship status after falling to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals.
The Warriors added Kevin Durant over the offseason to much hoopla, but they are entering this matchup with the same 0-1 record as its opponent, the New Orleans Pelicans.
New Orleans set the league astir talking about the dominance of one Anthony Davis. Davis shot 17 of 34 from the field and 16 of 17 from the free throw line en route to 50 points on opening night, but he got little help from his teammates.
The Pelicans did assist 31 of 38 field goals, but shot just 3 of 19 from three-point range and fouled the Denver Nuggets incessantly. Though Denver turned it over 25 times, New Orleans scored just 15 fast break points in the game, largely unable to capitalize on what was a good overall defensive effort.
New Orleans also was absolutely murdered on the boards, however, and a lot of that has to fall on the shoulders of its entire frontcourt rotation outside of Davis. Davis had 16 boards, but the Pelicans were out rebounded 58-34. The Pelicans got 76.9 percent of available defensive rebounds with Omer Asik on the court, but while Alexis Ajinca was in, that figure plummeted to 63.6 percent.
Also to blame was newly-acquired forward Solomon Hill, who scarcely sniffed a rebound (okay, literally one) as the ineffective 3-man of the starting lineup. Hill is replacement-level fodder until the Pelicans find the small forward they want to put next to Davis permanently.
Beyond all of that, the Nuggets also out-hustled New Orleans to a number of “50/50 balls,” which began to take its toll, particularly in crunch time when Nuggets forward Will Barton both corralled an errant rebound and caused a loose ball foul on Anthony Davis, securing two vital possessions (one a second look and easy layup) for Denver.
The Pelicans are not a good enough team that they can afford to lose the “small battles,” and outside of pure hustle this team is also in dire need of shooting. Jrue Holiday should return soon after missing time due to his wife Lauren needing surgery (which was done successfully) and giving birth. His return will bring some three-point shooting, and Quincy Pondexter will be a help once he is available too.
The Pelicans will be winding up to look for a big scorer the 2017 draft, but for right now a big focus lies on developing the extant scoring talents of Buddy Hield. The 2016 collegiate player of the year comes in mature and NBA ready, and he is going to have a big role in Year one. Hield hit just 2 of 8 from the field in the opening night loss, but he scored 13 points per game over the preseasons and his scoring talents seem to be a surefire bet to translate to the NBA: shooting usually does.
Though Hield is the favorite for the Rookie of the Year award according to oddsmakers at Bovada, he will face tough competition for the award.
The thing is, he is being gift wrapped an opportunity to shine with Holiday out and Tyreke Evans still coming back from injury. The Pelicans can still gel together to have a favorable season, but right now the main issue is making sure Davis does not score 50 in losing efforts anymore.
And help begins with hitting the glass much more diligently, since the shots will eventually begin falling presumably. New Orleans will not go 3 of 19 every night, but if the defensive effort is strong and the team makes a consummate effort to control the glass and loose balls, they could surprise a lot of teams.
For starters, Zaza Pachulia and Draymond Green will have their hands absolutely full with Davis tonight. Though many are saying Golden State did not lose much by the departure of Festus Ezeli and Andrew Bogut, that theory will certainly be put to the test tonight by the best scoring big in the Association (arguably, perhaps).