Game Preview: Pelicans vs. Nets - March 24, 2014
The New Orleans Pelicans and Brooklyn Nets, who will face off Monday night in the Crescent City, were two of the NBA’s most active teams during the 2013 offseason. There was very little in common in how the clubs went about reshaping their rosters, however.
New Orleans built one of the league’s youngest squads partly by acquiring All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday, 23, and versatile wing player Tyreke Evans, 24. Unfortunately for the Pelicans, Holiday sustained a season-ending injury in January, greatly hampering the team’s chances of remaining in the heated Western Conference playoff race. Evans fought ankle injuries early in 2013-14, but has been playing well in recent weeks, particularly since he was moved into the starting lineup Feb. 28. The remainder of the Pelicans’ core quintet is also youthful, including Anthony Davis, 21, and 25-year-olds Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon.
Davis has been a dominant force throughout his second NBA season, but has upped his performance to a new level this month, including a recent six-game stretch in which he averaged 32.3 points and 14.3 rebounds. After making his NBA All-Star debut last month, the Kentucky product appears destined to be a fixture at the league’s midseason showcase event.
While New Orleans went young last summer, Brooklyn took the opposite approach. In the biggest blockbuster transaction of the offseason, the Nets acquired the venerable Celtics championship duo of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, who are 37 and 36, respectively. Davis has occasionally been compared to the younger version of Garnett, the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2003-04.
Like the Pelicans, the Nets have battled injuries all season. Garnett has been sidelined recently with back spasms, while point guard Deron Williams has missed a total of over a dozen games. Brooklyn starting center Brook Lopez is out for the rest of 2013-14 after undergoing foot surgery.
The Nets made a rare pickup of a younger player last month when they traded for LSU product and former New Orleans guard Marcus Thornton, 26.
Tyreke Evans vs. Joe Johnson