Game Preview: Pelicans vs. Cavaliers - November 22, 2013
For one of the few times in NBA history, when the New Orleans Pelicans host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night, each of the past three No. 1 overall draft picks will be in uniform in the same game. Early in 2013-14, New Orleans has been led by 2012’s top draft choice, Anthony Davis, who is off to a fantastic start, putting up excellent numbers in the scoring, rebounding and shot-blocking categories. Meanwhile, Cleveland’s best player is point guard Kyrie Irving, the first selection of the 2011 NBA Draft. By his standards, Irving’s numbers are a bit down through his team’s first 12 games, but he was still averaging 21.8 points and 6.9 assists. Rounding out the trio of No. 1 picks is Cavaliers rookie forward Anthony Bennett, a surprising name to many when David Stern announced him first at this year’s June 27 draft. Unlike Davis and Irving, Bennett has not put together a positive start to this season, shooting just 14 percent from the field and averaging 1.3 points in his first 10 appearances.
Although Bennett’s potential impact off the bench for the Cavaliers on Friday is uncertain, New Orleans’ second unit has shown several encouraging signs recently. Led by Ryan Anderson’s return to the court last weekend, the Pelicans’ reserves combined to score 71 points against the 76ers in a Saturday blowout victory and swung the momentum in Wednesday’s win over the Jazz. Anderson has averaged a team-leading 22.5 points in his two games back on the floor.
Jrue Holiday vs. Kyrie Irving
Holiday and Irving were teammates on the 2013 Eastern Conference All-Star team, but Holiday was traded by Philadelphia to New Orleans during the June 27 draft. Both floor generals are feared scorers and passers, dual threats who can easily put up 20 points in a game or 10 assists. Through Wednesday’s games, Holiday and Irving both ranked in the top 11 of the NBA in assists. Holiday finished fourth in the league in assists last season and was Philadelphia’s leading scorer.