February '14 a month to remember for
New Orleans Pelicans
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
On paper at least, February 2014 may be the most exciting month of the upcoming NBA season for the New Orleans Pelicans. On the month’s third weekend, All-Star festivities will be taking place in the Crescent City, culminating with the Feb. 16 All-Star Game in the New Orleans Arena. It’s the second time since 2008 that the league has elected to hold its midseason showcase here.
The weekend of Feb. 14-16 will also feature All-Star staples such as the Rising Stars game, the three-point shootout and the dunk contest. The 2008 dunk extravaganza was one of the most memorable in NBA history, with Dwight Howard and his Superman cape prevailing over the likes of Gerald Green and his ultra-creative “birthday cupcake” slam.
The Pelicans will embark on a three-game road trip from Feb. 9-12 that will help clear the way for the logistics of NBA All-Star activities to be organized and set up in the team’s home arena.
Speaking of February, all three of the Pelicans’ scheduled ESPN appearances will take place from Feb. 7-28. The team’s final home game prior to the All-Star break will air on ESPN, a Feb. 7 matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Over the final three days of February, New Orleans will have two more ESPN games, on Feb. 26 at Dallas and Feb. 28 at Phoenix.
The Pelicans are also scheduled to be on NBA TV three times, though that number may potentially increase based on “Fan Night” votes for Tuesday games.
Schedule always difficult in West
It’s a recent fact of life that teams in the Western Conference face a tougher brand of competition than those in the East. To use the Pelicans as an example, 51 of their games will be against teams that finished with a .500 or better record last season, while just 31 are vs. opponents that are coming off losing campaigns. In the Southwest Division, San Antonio (58-24), Memphis (56-26) and Houston (45-37) each finished well above the break-even point, while Dallas (41-41) was exactly .500. New Orleans plays a total of 16 games each season against the Spurs, Grizzlies, Rockets and Mavericks.
Mardi Gras trip Feb. 26-March 4
For logistical reasons, New Orleans is always scheduled to be on the road during the culmination of Mardi Gras in the city. Fat Tuesday in 2014 is March 4. As a result, the Pelicans will be on the road for a five-game trip from Feb. 26-March 4, with stops in Dallas, Phoenix, Sacramento and Los Angeles (twice). In a scheduling oddity, the Pelicans will travel to face the Clippers on March 1, fly to Sacramento for a March 3 game, and then come back to L.A. for a matchup vs. the Lakers on March 4.
New Orleans will benefit from a season-high six-game homestand from March 7-19, facing the Bucks, Nuggets, Grizzlies, Trail Blazers, Celtics and Raptors. After a quick trip to Atlanta for a road game on March 21, the Pelicans will then have a four-game homestand from March 22-28, against the Heat, Nets, Clippers and Jazz. In other words, New Orleans will have 10 home games over just a 22-day span.
Home games tip at 7, with four exceptions
New Orleans home games will continue to tip off at 7 p.m. local time, with some exceptions for Sunday contests during the latter half of the schedule. The following Sunday home games will begin at 5 p.m. Central: Jan. 26 vs. Orlando; March 9 vs. Denver; March 16 vs. Boston. In addition, to accommodate ESPN’s national doubleheader, the Friday, Feb. 7 game vs. Minnesota is scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m. locally.
No Thursday games
The only day of the week in which the Pelicans won’t play in 2013-14 is Thursday. Subsequently, that means they do not appear on TNT’s broadcast schedule. The most popular day is Wednesday, with a total of 21 games scheduled for “hump day.” Thirteen of the 41 Pelicans home games are on a Wednesday.