The New Orleans Pelicans have failed to live up to expectations in the early going of the 2015-16 NBA season. Few can really fault them, as Jrue Holiday is on a hard minutes cap, and the team is dealing with injuries to at least three key players – namely Tyreke Evans and Omer Asik.
It was bad going into the year, but it’s about to get even worse if the Pellies can’t top the Golden State Warriors at home on Saturday night. If they can’t, they’ll be in an 0-3 hole and suddenly won’t be looking like a team ready to take another big step after sneaking into the playoffs a year ago.
Anthony Davis playing quite small in the process is one big reason why, and this could be an opportunity to make a statement by carrying his team to a big, much-needed win in front of his home crowd. The trouble is, Golden State tore them down in the season opener and the end result is fairly unlikely to be different tonight. That being said, the Pellies will try to stave off another loss. Let’s take a closer look at that game and the others slated for Saturday’s NBA schedule:
Season NBA Picks record: 21-11 (9-3 on Friday)
Jazz @ Pacers
Indiana is 0-2 and plays host to a very strong defensive team tonight, which is weird because they used to rely on defense at a high level. That’s no longer the case, as Indy is a more finesse team with worse defense and little power in the paint. Utah has two terrific bigs and enough wing play to give the Pacers fits. Utah could have a little trouble on the road if the Pacers get out and run, but I think Utah’s defense should prevail and keep the Pacers winless for at least one more game.
Pick: Jazz 89, Paces 87
Knicks @ Wizards
The Knicks are better than they were a year ago but their huge season opening win reminds me a lot of last year, when they beat the Cavs and then did nothing the rest of the season. I think if they’re really going anywhere they need to dump Jose Calderon and hand the keys of the offense to rookie blur, Jerian Grant. That wouldn’t save them tonight, anyways, of course, as they’re on the road against the blurriest of them all – John Wall. I like the Wizards all day in this one as D.C. improves to 3-0.
Pick: Wiz 104, Knicks 99
Warriors @ Pelicans
New Orleans has looked pretty weak through their first two games and it isn’t going to be of any help that two of their first three contests come against the defending champion Warriors. New Orleans may not be able to use the “we’re banged up” excuse in this one, as Klay Thompson isn’t 100% now and Andrew Bogut is out for the second game in a row. The Warriors are just the better team and Stephen Curry is quickly on his way to another MVP tour.
Pick: Warriors 107, Pelicans 101
Nets @ Grizzlies
Brooklyn is lacking talent in a big way, as their only hope if for center Brook Lopez to go nuts or Joe Johnson to dominate the mid-range game. With Marc Gasol down low and Tony Allen on the outside, Memphis isn’t about to allow either from a defensive perspective. The Grizzlies looked awful in a blowout loss to Cleveland a few days ago, but they looked far better in a win on Thursday and should look even better in a win at home tonight.
Pick: Grizz 105, Nets 92
Suns @ Blazers
The Suns are tough to gauge, as they didn’t show up to play against Dallas on Wednesday, and then they turn around and smoke the Blazers last night. Portland is tough to figure out, too, but now this series goes back to Portland for a back-to-back set. These teams are going to be awfully tired, so it’s tough not to side with the home team in this one.
Pick: Blazers 107, Suns 104
Kings @ Clippers
Sacramento and Lob City face off for the second time in the first week of NBA action, and if it’s anything like Wednesday’s opener, the Kings are in serious trouble. Sac-town is probably going to be a little worn down after playing last night and dropping 132 points on the Lakers, while the Clips rarely play poorly at Staples Center. Sacramento is really going to have their work cut out for them on a back-to-back, but they should at least make it interesting.
Pick: Clips 112, Kings 108