Portland Trail Blazers (29-32) vs New Orleans Pelicans (30-32)
The Portland Trail Blazers take on the New Orleans Pelicans at home on the second night of a back to back. The Blazers come into this contest after losing their previous game to the Golden State Warriors. The Pelicans come into this game as losers of their last four games, with their latest loss coming at the hands of the Orlando Magic.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Portland Trail Blazers - Wednesday, March 1 - 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: Root Sports Plus, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Justise Winslow (out), Ibou Badji (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Anfernee Simons (out), Ryan Arcidiacono (out), John Butler Jr. (out)
Pelicans injuries: Zion Williamson (out), Jose Alvarado (out), Larry Nance (out), EJ Liddell (out), Jonas Valanciunas (questionable), Josh Richardson (questionable)
SBN Affiliate: The Bird Writes
What To Watch For
Offense meets defense. The Blazers are 4th in the league in offensive rating, but 27th in defensive rating. The Pelicans are almost the exact opposite as their offensive rating comes in at 20th and their defensive rating is 8th in the league. The unstoppable force of the Blazers offense will have to content with the immovable object that is the Pelicans defense as both teams will try to force the other into a different play style than they are used to. On the other end, it becomes a question of if the Blazers defense will make the offense of the Pelicans look good, or if the Pelicans will make the Blazers defense look better than it is.
Three point shooting. Without the outlier performance from Matisse Thybulle, the Blazers shot a horrid 7/33 from three in their last game against the Warriors. That is way off the Blazers’ normal mark of 37.8%, which is good for 6th in the league. If last night was an outlier, than a more average performance should see a Blazers team that struggled to score see the ball go in the basket with much more regularity in this game. If last night was just a sign of what the Anfernee-Simons-less Blazers will look like, this game could get ugly. Hopefully for the Blazers it is the former, and they can go right back to shooting at a high level.
Back-to-back fatigue. The Blazers lost a game that ended after nine at night. Now they have to get on a flight, get back to Portland, catch as much sleep as they can, and do it all again less than 24 hours later. Sure they are professionals and they have done it before, but after a tough loss like that fatigue is definitely a factor. Whether the fatigue is mental or physical, the Blazers will have their work cut out for them as they take on a Pelicans squad that is desperate for a win.
What Others Are Saying
Oleh Kosel of The Bird Writes talks about the Pelicans’ starting lineup troubles since early February.
One would, thus, assume this 5-man group would be greatly responsible for the team’s really good 117.4 offensive rating over the last seven games. Nothing could be further from the truth. McCollum-Jones-Ingram-Murphy-Valanciunas have posted a lethargic 106.7 ORTG during this span. And more troubling, their defense (129.5 DRTG) has been downright putrid when compared to how the team has fared overall (115.1 DRTG).
Remove this group’s 58 minutes from the numbers and the Pelicans’ offensive rating sits at 119.9, with the defensive rating coming in at 112.5. That 7.4 net rating would be fourth best in the NBA since Feb. 2.
SBNation’s Mat Issa highlights the perfect three-and-D player, Trey Murphy III.
At 6’9, with a 7-foot wingspan, and a college career three-point percentage of 40.1%, Murphy was projected in last season’s draft as the perfect “three-and-d” role player for the Pelicans to slot next to their superstars Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram (hence them using the first-round pick they received from the Memphis Grizzlies to select him).
So far, he’s lived up to that billing. This season, he’s in the 85th percentile among players with at least 25 games played in Cerebro Sports’ 3-Point Efficiency metric (a shooting metric that combines 3PT volume and efficiency to show the most lethal shooters).
He’s also in the 84th percentile in the website’s Defensive Statistical Impact statistic [an events-creation metric that captures and combines possession-winning actions (steals, offensive, rebounds) with defensive efficiency (blocks, fouls) to act as a proxy for defensive athleticism and feel].