Game Preview: Pelicans vs. Mavericks - December 4, 2013

Pelicans vs. Mavericks Game Preview

As the only teams in the Southwest Division to not qualify for the Western Conference playoffs last season, the Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans share a common problem, as members of the NBA’s toughest division. San Antonio, Memphis and Houston have all enjoyed their share of regular-season success in recent years – the Spurs more so than just about any other franchise, in fact – meaning the Mavericks and Pelicans must continue to improve on the court in order to make headway.

When Dallas meets New Orleans in Wednesday’s showdown, both clubs will be looking for a victory to help improve their position in the division and conference standings. It’s the first of four meetings between the Mavericks and Pelicans this season; they’ll also play a rare home-away back-to-back set on Jan. 10-11. The annual four-game season series concludes Feb. 26 in Dallas, in a game scheduled to be televised nationally by ESPN.

Dallas was projected by most analysts to miss the playoffs for a second straight season, but the Mavericks have put together an encouraging start, winning 10 of their first 18 games. The Mavericks did not lose a home game until Nov. 25, when they were defeated by the Nuggets.

Meanwhile, New Orleans’ hopes to improve this season have been boosted by better play in its home building. After going just 16-25 here in 2012-13, the Pelicans are off to a 5-3 start in the New Orleans Arena, including victories over Charlotte, the Lakers, Philadelphia, Utah and Cleveland. The Pelicans have been competitive in every home game this season, dropping tightly-contested matchups here with Indiana, Phoenix and Golden State.

Pelicans Eric Gordon
Intriguing matchup: Shooting guard
Eric Gordon vs. Monta Ellis
Ellis has been one of the primary reasons behind Dallas’ above-.500 start. The new Maverick has also at least temporarily taken over the mantle of No. 1 scoring option from Dirk Nowitzki, averaging 21.9 points compared to Nowitzki’s 20.6 (through 18 games). Gordon has experienced an injury-free season with New Orleans for the first time since joining the club in 2011 and recently compiled a 26-point game in a win at Philadelphia. Gordon and the Pelicans will focus on keeping Ellis out of the lane on attacking drives to the rim.
Mavericks Monta Ellis