What has New Orleans done recently?
The Pelicans have lost their last four games and seven of their last 11. Only one of their last four opponents, the Los Angeles Clippers, has a record well above .500. It hasn't been the season that New Orleans was hoping for. Injuries have played a major role in the team's struggles. Both Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday suffered injuries last month that will sideline them for the foreseeable future.
What stat, player or fact might surprise you about the Pelicans?
There is just something about the Mavericks that brings the best out of Al-Farouq Aminu. In his career he has face Dallas 14 times. He has recorded 120 career points and 120 total rebounds against the Mavs, his highest marks against any team. He also has 27 career assists against Dallas. It isn't an eye-popping number, but it is another high mark against an opponent.
Which team stat might determine the game?
Rebounding and turnovers will play a large part in determining the outcome. The Pelicans aren't great at grabbing defensive rebounds. They are, however, very good at getting offensive boards. As we all know, good offensive rebounding teams generally aren't teams who shoot the ball well. New Orleans isn't a bad shooting team, though. They have a .491 effective field goal percentage which is middle of the pack. What helps them get offensive rebounds is Anthony Davis. He has collected 165 offensive rebounds this season, 13th best in the league.
The Pelicans also do not turn the ball over often. Only 12.8 percent of their offensive possessions end in turnovers. Dallas turns the ball over at the same rate. However, the Mavs force their opponents into more turnover than the Pelicans. With the rim protection that Davis provides, Dallas needs create transition opportunities through defensive rebounding and turnovers.
What do the Mavs need to do to be successful against the Pelicans?
It would behoove Dallas to slow down Aminu. Of course, slowing players down is not something that the Mavs are known for. We have been over this countless times so it isn't necessary to rehash it. Sadly, though, that is really what Dallas needs to do. Just compile a few consecutive stops. Then turn those into points on the other end and the Mavericks should, should, walk away with a win.
BUT...we all know it will be a close game, so have your doctor on speed-dial.