Top Pelicans Home Games of 2014-15

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No.1

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS AT NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

Friday, Dec. 12

Other 2014-15 games between these two teams
Monday, Nov. 10, New Orleans at Cleveland

Why it’s on the list
Whether you’ve supported him or rooted against him, no NBA player draws as much attention as LeBron James, who stunned many by returning to his home state of Ohio to play for the Cavaliers. Every game James has played in New Orleans in recent years has been a guaranteed sellout, with fans excited to get their once-a-season glimpse at the four-time league MVP and two-time NBA champion. The Cavs also feature budding star point guard Kyrie Irving and reportedly have agreed to terms to acquire Kevin Love, making it an All-Star trio.

What's new in Cleveland
Perhaps you’ve read somewhere that "King James" decided to come home this summer. If that weren’t enough, the Cavaliers also won the draft lottery in May and picked ultra-promising Andrew Wiggins. Cleveland reportedly was able to turn that unexpected bit of luck (the Cavs only had a 1.7 percent chance of winning) into a blockbuster trade with the Timberwolves and land Kevin Love, an ideal complement to LeBron’s skill set. The Cavs also have a new head coach, David Blatt, as well as several veteran role players who followed James to Northeast Ohio.

No.2

ORLANDO MAGIC AT NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

Tuesday, Oct. 28

Other 2014-15 games between these two teams
Friday, Feb. 20, New Orleans at Orlando

Why it’s on the list
In a rarity, New Orleans will be playing on the opening night of the NBA regular season. In past years, the franchise has generally played its first game on the final Wednesday of October, after the league tipped off the night before. The Pelicans begin Season 2 of their new era in Smoothie King Center against an Eastern Conference opponent. Orlando split its season series with New Orleans last season. Both teams prevailed at home.

What's new in Orlando
With a pair of lottery picks in the June draft, the Magic added to its talented core group by landing Aaron Gordon and Louisiana-Lafayette point guard Elfrid Payton, who rocketed to the top of draft boards. Payton, a native of New Orleans, showed off his impressive floor game during summer league. Orlando also signed veterans Channing Frye and Ben Gordon early in free agency.

No.3

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS AT NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

Friday, Jan. 30

Other 2014-15 games between these two teams
Saturday, Dec. 6, New Orleans at Los Angeles Clippers
Sunday, March 22, New Orleans at Los Angeles Clippers

Why it’s on the list
The Pelicans and Clippers have played some heated, entertaining games over the past few seasons, after New Orleans All-Star point guard Chris Paul went to L.A. in a December 2011 trade. Once a doormat of the NBA, the Clippers have been transformed into a Western Conference contender whose fondness for alley oops led to the nickname "Lob City." Along with Paul, Clippers power forward Blake Griffin is a perennial All-Star.

What's new in Los Angeles
The most-discussed change for the Clippers this summer is in ownership, where Steve Ballmer is taking over the reins after the departure of the previous Sterling regime. On the court, Los Angeles added to its frontcourt depth by signing Spencer Hawes in free agency from Cleveland. The Clippers also changed backup point guards after Darren Collison signed with Sacramento. Collison, a former New Orleans player, will be replaced by Jordan Farmar.

No.4

CHICAGO BULLS AT NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

Saturday, Feb. 7

Other 2014-15 games between these two teams
Saturday, Dec. 27, New Orleans at Chicago

Why it’s on the list
With the expected return from injury of former league MVP and multi-time All-Star point guard Derrick Rose, the Bulls are a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference, maybe even the favorite if not for LeBron James’ arrival in Cleveland. This game is also an opportunity for Anthony Davis to play against his hometown team. Due to injuries, Davis has only faced the Bulls twice, but never in the Windy City.

What's new in Chicago
The Bulls made one of the biggest splashes in free agency when they signed power forward Pau Gasol, who was a primary reason the Lakers won back-to-back championships in 2009-10. Gasol will join center Joakim Noah in what will be one of the league’s best big-man combos. Many also expect big things from Chicago rookies Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott, who lit up summer league with his shooting accuracy.

No.5

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER AT NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

Tuesday, Dec. 2

Other 2014-15 games between these two teams
Sunday, Dec. 21, New Orleans at Oklahoma City
Wednesday, Feb. 4, Oklahoma City at New Orleans
Friday, Feb. 6, New Orleans at Oklahoma City

Why it’s on the list
Oklahoma City is one of the NBA’s premier teams, having won at least one playoff round in each of the past four years, including a trip to the NBA Finals and two other advancements to the Western Conference finals. The high-scoring duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook make for an entertaining brand of basketball, combining last season to average 53.8 points.

What's new in Oklahoma City
Like their conference rivals in San Antonio, the Thunder mostly stood pat, though the club did lose veteran experience when Thabo Sefolosha (Atlanta) left in free agency and Derek Fisher retired to coach the Knicks. OKC signed sharpshooter Anthony Morrow, who is coming off a stellar 2013-14 with New Orleans. Thunder first-round pick Mitch McGary looked promising at Orlando summer league.

No.6

LOS ANGELES LAKERS AT NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

Wednesday, Nov. 12

Other 2014-15 games between these two teams
Sunday, Dec. 7, New Orleans at Los Angeles Lakers
Wednesday, Jan. 21, Los Angeles Lakers at New Orleans
Wednesday, April 1, New Orleans at Los Angeles Lakers

Why it’s on the list
Sure, the Lakers are coming off their worst regular season in recent memory, but they’re still led by veteran guard Kobe Bryant, one of the NBA’s most popular players among fans. The Lakers remain an excellent draw on the road, finishing fourth last season in average away attendance per game (the only teams who did better were Miami, Oklahoma City and somewhat surprisingly, Indiana). Lakers visits virtually always sell out at Smoothie King Center.

What's new in Los Angeles
In a rarity for the Lakers, the most important offseason pickup may have come on draft night, when they selected Kentucky forward Julius Randle in the lottery. Los Angeles also benefited from Carlos Boozer being amnestied by Chicago; the Lakers swooped in and signed the proven power forward, who will try to help replace Pau Gasol. Further frontcourt depth came in the form of free agent signee Ed Davis.

No.7

HOUSTON ROCKETS AT NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

Friday, Jan. 2

Other 2014-15 games between these two teams
Thursday, Dec. 18, New Orleans at Houston
Wednesday, March 25, Houston at New Orleans
Sunday, April 12, New Orleans at Houston

Why it’s on the list
The first game of the New Year for the Pelicans will also be the first chance for Omer Asik to face his former Rockets teammates. Behind the star power of Dwight Howard and James Harden, Houston has become one of the league’s most fun teams to watch. Since Harden’s arrival days before the 2012-13 season, the Rockets have finished sixth and fourth, respectively, in offensive efficiency among the NBA’s 30 teams.

What's new in Houston
The biggest Rockets addition of the summer is a familiar face to New Orleans fans, small forward Trevor Ariza. The former NOLA player is expected to replace Chandler Parsons in the starting lineup; Parsons received a massive offer sheet from Dallas that Houston did not match. The Rockets also lost Asik and Jeremy Lin (Lakers), who both initially signed big deals with Houston two offseasons ago.

No.8

MIAMI HEAT AT NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

Friday, Feb. 27

Other 2014-15 games between these two teams
Saturday, Feb. 21, New Orleans at Miami

Why it’s on the list
Although the Heat lost the NBA’s biggest superstar in July when LeBron James returned home to Cleveland, Miami still boasts household names Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The four-time defending Eastern Conference champions also made a nice save in free agency by landing Luol Deng, a quality starting small forward. Many fans and media members will discount Miami in its post-LeBron era, but the Heat still figure to be very competitive in the suddenly wide-open Eastern Conference.

What's new in Miami
James’ departure changed everything, creating a situation where several role players may ultimately be needed to make larger-than-expected contributions. In addition to signing Deng, the Heat’s forward-heavy acquisitions included picking up New Orleans native Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts, who played well for Charlotte vs. Miami in the playoffs. The Heat also acquired two-time NCAA champion and UConn point guard Shabazz Napier on draft night.

No.9

SAN ANTONIO SPURS AT NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

Wednesday, April 15

Other 2014-15 games between these two teams
Saturday, Nov. 8, New Orleans at San Antonio
Friday, Dec. 26, San Antonio at New Orleans
Wednesday, Dec. 31, New Orleans at San Antonio

Why it’s on the list
Game 82 on the Pelicans’ regular season schedule could have ramifications in the Western Conference race and is an opportunity to close the campaign at Smoothie King Center. Fresh off putting on a clinic of unselfish and fundamental basketball in the NBA Finals, the defending champion Spurs have now won five championships since 1999. San Antonio went 4-0 against New Orleans last season and has prevailed in each of the last five meetings overall, dating to a Jan. 7, 2013 victory for the then-Hornets.

What's new in San Antonio
As you might expect from a team with elite chemistry that just won a championship, the Spurs focused their offseason efforts on keeping their core group together. San Antonio re-signed free agents Boris Diaw, Patty Mills and Matt Bonner, while longtime franchise player Tim Duncan opted in to his contract. One new face for the Spurs is first-round draft pick Kyle Anderson (UCLA). San Antonio also made history by hiring WNBA player Becky Hammon as the NBA’s first full-time female assistant coach.

No.10

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS AT NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

Sunday, Dec. 14

Other 2014-15 games between these two teams
Thursday, Dec. 4, New Orleans at Golden State
Friday, March 20, New Orleans at Golden State
Tuesday, April 7, Golden State at New Orleans

Why it’s on the list
The Warriors are undoubtedly one of the NBA’s most entertaining teams to watch, with an up-tempo, shoot-em-up style of play that is spearheaded by the "Splash Brothers," the backcourt duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Golden State has finished in the NBA’s top 10 in scoring in seven of the past eight seasons. Beyond Curry and Thompson – the team’s two leading point producers last season – the Warriors also feature potent scorers David Lee, Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala.

What's new in Golden State
The biggest change in Oakland is on the sideline, where Steve Kerr takes over for Mark Jackson. Like Jackson, Kerr is debuting as Warriors head coach with no previous experience in the role. Like Jackson, Kerr came from the TV booth, though Kerr had been a successful Phoenix Suns executive during the last decade. On the court, the Warriors acquired backcourt depth by signing backup point guard Shaun Livingston, who replaces Steve Blake. Golden State also added to its stable of perimeter shooters by bringing back wing Brandon Rush.

Top 10 Home Games Photo Gallery