New Orleans Pelicans (15-16) at Indiana Pacers (25-6)
New Orleans comes to Indianapolis Saturday night in hope of returning a favor to the Indiana Pacers. On opening night in the Big Easy, Indiana stepped on the floor versus the Pelicans and rallied for a win, spoiling opening night for the home crowd back in late October.
However, New Orleans will most likely be playing without backup sharpshooter Ryan Anderson again. Anderson suffered an injury Friday night in Boston after colliding with the Celtics’ Gerald Wallace. Anderson was taken off the court on a stretcher and team officials are calling the injury a “cervical stinger.” He also did not play in the first matchup with Indiana.
Meanwhile, the Pacers have gone 1-1 this week, with a back-to-back on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Indiana defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers on the eve of 2014 in a 91-76 rout. They started 2014 with a letdown in Toronto that led to a 95-82 loss at the hands of the Raptors.
It seems that Toronto has not been kind to Indiana over the past few years. The Pacers typically face a battle when they match up with the Raptors.
On to New Orleans, as they present a unique challenge for Indiana. The Pelicans boast an explosive backcourt between Jrue Holiday and Indiana native Eric Gordon. Both can handle the ball, score in bunches and dish the rock out for open shots.
That leaves Anthony Davis free to roam the post offensively and defensively. Davis has a solid reputation in the pick-and-roll game as well as rim protection. He first made a name for himself at the University of Kentucky for his alley-oop talents and shot-blocking ability.
Thus, New Orleans drafted Davis with the No. 1 overall pick in 2012.
Davis presents a challenge for Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert. He’s more athletic and a more consistent scorer. Hibbert, a seasoned veteran and much improved defensive presence, will use his knowledge of the game to outlast Davis in the paint.
New Orleans should fight for most of the game after losing at home to the Pacers over two months ago. I think Indiana still wins this one in the end, 95-87.