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Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Orleans Pelicans Preview

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The Blazers try to bounce back after a close loss at Milwaukee.

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NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (2-1) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (1-2)

Tuesday, October 24th - 7:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Noah Vonleh (out)
Pelicans injuries: Alexis Ajinca (out), Rajon Rondo (out), Frank Jackson (out), Solomon Hill (out), Omer Asik (out)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBATV, NBA League Pass (outside of the US)
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: The Bird Writes

The Blazers take on the Pelicans after losing a tough one against Milwaukee on the road on Saturday, 113-110. Giannis Antetokounmpo was other-worldly, scoring 44 points against the Blazers. Still, Portland played reasonably well and will be disappointed that they didn’t win.

New Orleans is coming off their first win of the year at the Lakers on Sunday. The Pelicans led most of the game, but lost their lead in the fourth quarter. However, they pulled out a come-from-behind victory, 119 - 112.

Portland lost the season series 1-3 to the Pelicans last year. One of the losses was a particularly ugly one on March 14th that marred the otherwise triumphant arrival of Jusuf Nurkic.

What to watch for

  • Can the Blazers handle Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins? The pair combined for 49 points in their last outing against the Lakers but are capable of much more. In their loss against Golden State they scored 70 of the team’s 120 points. The Blazers big men will need to have very good defensive games if they want keep Davis and Cousins from dominating the middle when the Pelicans have the ball. Jusuf Nurkic’s slimmed-down frame will be especially tested as the Pelicans can throw their weight around under the basket.
  • The Pelicans have not been playing very good defense. The Pelicans have been giving up 12 made threes per game at a 37 percent clip. They are also fourth worst in the league in opponent’s shooting percentage at 47.6 percent. The Pelicans are allowing opponents 114.3 points per game, fifth worst in the league. The Blazers, on the other hand, have been effective finding good looks so far this season. If that continues, the Blazers are capable of putting a lot of points on the board.
  • Rebounding could be crucial. The Blazers and Pelicans have both been among the best rebounding teams in the league. The Blazers are pulling down 50 per game while the Pelicans are close behind at 48. Advanced metrics show the same trends. Expect the battle of the boards to be fierce, and if the game is close, quite possibly decisive.

What they’re saying

Vincent Johnson of ESPN.com highlights what is missing from the Pelicans:

There likely isn't a team in the NBA that can contain the Pelicans' two-headed monster of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. But what this team is still searching for is balance. Davis and Cousins have combined for 55 percent of the team's scoring and 61 percent of the rebounds.

Mark Nilon of Pelican Debrief thinks New Orleans has found a perfect fit in new signee Jameer Nelson:

His fit with the team makes too much sense! Now, if you remember, when previously talking about Nelsons most successful seasons in the league, both with Orlando and Dallas, we mentioned one similarity; the presence of a dominant big man. Dwight Howard is a low-post, pick-and-roll barbarian while Nowitzki is more of a mid-to-long range sniper. And again, as previously stated, Nelson thrived alongside both of these styles of play.

This fact should bring a sense of delight to Pelicans fans, for NOLA possesses not 1 but 2 bigs who fit the bill for BOTH of these play styles. For Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, versatility is their bread and butter. The pair can just as easily knock down the open ‘3’ as they can throw it down in the paint. For their career’s Davis shoots just under 30% from beyond the arc while Cousins shoots an impressive 32%.

The Bird Write’s Oleh Kosel likes what he sees from Ian Clark’s offense off the bench:

After three games on the regular season schedule, Clark is averaging 10.3 points, 2.3 threes, 2.3 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals, but his raw numbers shine much brighter when factoring in his efficiency: 63.2 FG%, 58.3 3P% and a 2.3:1 assist to turnover ratio.