New Orleans Pelicans (37-37) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (32-42)
The Portland Trail Blazers come into this contest with their goals clearer than they have been for months. Expect to see a heavy dose of Shaedon Sharpe again, and don’t be surprised if Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic don’t suit up (they are listed as questionable as of this writing). Player development and looking ahead to the draft are the orders of the day.
(Note: Lillard and Nurkic have since been confirmed out.)
The New Orleans Pelicans still have some work to do if they want to be playing in the post-season, but you’d be foolish to count them out at this point. Winners of their last four, the Pelicans find themselves in the a play-in spot in eighth at the moment, but they could wind up anywhere from out of the play-in to as high as fourth in the very tight West depending on what kind of run-in they can put together to close out the season. Last time out they dispatched the Los Angles Clippers in Los Angeles by the score of 131-110.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Portland Trail Blazers - Monday, March 27 - 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: Root Sports Plus, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Justise Winslow (out), Ibou Badji (out), Jerami Grant (out), Anfernee Simons (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Damian Lillard (out), Trendon Watford (doubtful), Cam Reddish (probable)
Pelicans injuries: Zion Williamson (out), Jose Alvarado (out)
SBN Affiliate: The Bird Writes
- CJ. We’ve seen it before. Former Blazer comes back to town and torches his former team. McCollum is averaging 21 points per game this season and has been completely solid for the Pelicans. He’s only broken 30 once in March, but maybe don’t bet against him doing it again against the Blazers.
- The Pelicans are shooting well from deep. For the season the Pelicans have been a fair to poor three point shooting team. New Orleans is 16th in the NBA in percentage from beyond the arc and 28th in terms of attempts. They still aren’t putting up a ton of attempts, but lately they just can’t seem to miss. Over the last five games they shot 44.6% from three, best in the NBA over that stretch. Portland opponents have shot 39.9% from deep over the last five games, seventh from bottom, so this doesn’t bode too well for Portland.
- Steals. New Orleans are the second best in the NBA in steals at 8.5 per game. That’s not particularly encouraging for a Blazers team that is likely to feature a ton of youth and a lack of experience. Indeed, Portland has been one of the worst teams in the NBA at avoiding turnovers lately, and it’s not hard to imagine that the Pelicans might be able to beat their season average in steals against the Blazers. If there is a small silver lining for the Blazers, they have been generating a bunch of steals over the last five games themselves, good for fifth place in the NBA over that period.
What Others Are Saying
Oleh Kosel of The Bird Writes says that New Orleans shouldn’t be looking to Zion this season, and that might not be the worst thing.
Williamson received the green light to progress to the next step involving some shooting, some running — having a basketball consistently in his hands again — only days ago. Many more hurdles remain, like running at full speed up and down the court multiple times and playing through all scenarios involving contact.
It’s time to cut bait on Williamson according to Ethan Scott of Yardbarker.
While some may argue that it’s too early for New Orleans to ditch Williamson, it may be too late if he has another injury-plagued season like this one. If he has another season without playing at least 40 games, his value on the open market could substantially drop.
A little spice from CJ.
CJ McCollum when asked if he’s been watching Damian Lillard and the Blazers:— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) March 26, 2023
“I heard that their season is over. It’s just uhh… Word on the street is they’re not gonna make the playoffs this year which is very unfortunate.”