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Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Pelicans Preview

Portland arrives in New Orleans looking to take advantage of the struggling Pelicans.

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

Portland Trail Blazers (41-26) at New Orleans Pelicans (30-40)

Friday, March 15 - 5:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Rodney Hood (probable), Seth Curry (questionable), Maurice Harkless (questionable)
Pelicans injuries: E’Twaun Moore (out), Jrue Holiday (out), Trevon Blueitt (out)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
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 Portland Trail Blazers arrive in New Orleans following a satisfying win over the Los Angeles Clippers 125-104. CJ McCollum had the hot hand against the Clippers, scoring 23 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter alone to clinch the win. Jusuf Nurkic had 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Damian Lillard had 20 points alongside 12 assists. Though the Blazers are the road team, look for them to be well-rested against this Pelicans squad due to the gap between games.

The New Orleans Pelicans take on the Blazers after a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks 130-113. Anthony Davis logged 21 points and 12 rebounds, while Julius Randle scored 23 points. While Davis had his own hot fourth quarter against the Bucks with 17 points, it wasn’t enough. The Pelicans are missing the veteran leadership of Jrue Holiday, who was a key difference-maker in the matchup against the Blazers during the first round of the playoffs last year.

What to watch for

  • Settling in. After bonding on a prolific road trip and enjoying some games at home, more players on the court are starting to show they know their role. If Rodney Hood and/or Seth Curry end up out due to injury and illness, this could be critical, as other players will have to step up to fill the gaps in shooting.
  • Veteran presence. The Pelicans squad is missing some key pieces, especially Jrue Holiday. This is a team that needs veteran guidance now more than ever, especially after Anthony Davis’ demands for a trade and the addition of some younger players in need of direction. It remains to be seen who can step up in his place.
  • Riding the hot hand. The Blazers showed how they trust each other during the game against the Clippers: CJ McCollum was hot, and the team fed him the ball to take advantage of it. Ultimately, the ability to use those opportunities comes down to the faith that the team has in one another, and it is crucial that they maintain this attitude down the stretch to maximize those opportunities.

What they’re saying

Over at The Bird Writes, Mike Delayo explains how Cheick Diallo is growing in New Orleans:

In 2019, the script has finally been flipped. His number was called upon when Anthony Davis went out with injury just prior to his trade request, and he has responded with the best few weeks of his time in New Orleans. Diallo has played in all 20 of the Pelicans’ games since January 24, and has averaged 17.7 minutes per game, a 92% increase from the 9.2 minutes he had averaged prior to that point. Though he has logged all of those minutes coming off the bench, his energetic style of play has been effective against the opposition.

Andrew Lopez of the New Orleans Times-Picayune outlines how a healthy Elfrid Payton is contributing after the All-Star Break:

Payton has been even more impressive in the last three games with Jrue Holiday out of the lineup with back-to-back triple-doubles while averaging 14 points, 9 assists and 10.3 rebounds.

“I definitely feel much healthier than I’ve been unfortunately throughout the season,” Payton said following Tuesday’s loss to the Bucks. “I’m getting a head of steam. Just gotta find a way to turn them into W’s.”

At the Pelicans Debrief, D’Markus Burrell examines the essential role Jrue Holliday plays for New Orleans

After Pelicans fans had their hearts broken by someone who previously said he wanted to be in New Orleans for his entire career, Jrue has been someone that everyone can rally around; fans, players, and front office alike.

With AD’s minutes cut (or him being out completely due to rest or injury), Jrue’s offensive duties have increased. But that has not stopped him from being a dog on the defensive end. Night after night, Jrue is tasked with guarding the opposing team’s best perimeter player, and he usually holds them to one of their worst shooting nights of the season.