Pelicans starters huddle before Monday's win at Miami

Entergy shootaround update: Pelicans ten-man rotation may repeat vs. Bucks

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

NBA preseason games often require even the most avid basketball fan to conduct a few Google searches, to try to figure out exactly who some of the players are at any given time. While that may still be the case for much of the league during this abbreviated 2020 preseason, it’s not the case for New Orleans.

Stan Van Gundy used a total of just 10 players in Monday’s exhibition win at Miami and plans to keep his rotation similarly normal Friday vs. Milwaukee. NBA teams often trot out 14-plus different players in preseason affairs, but the Pelicans may not delve into their third unit and beyond against the Bucks.

“I think I’ll probably play 10,” Van Gundy said. “It may end up going a little deeper. But I don’t really think so. Our guys need to get minutes. We’ll try to keep it to 10.”

Four Pelicans starters logged 30-plus minutes Monday, an unusually higher allotment for preseason, but Van Gundy has emphasized that from both a conditioning and chemistry standpoint, it’s important for the team’s players to be on the court together. Each New Orleans reserve also played at least 10 minutes, including rookie Kira Lewis.

The team’s alignment obviously will shift in some fashion Friday, because Eric Bledsoe and JJ Redick are back in action after being sidelined for Monday’s game. Van Gundy said both guards will play tonight.


Notes from Friday’s shootaround:

It’s only preseason so who knows exactly how Milwaukee will treat Friday’s game from a rotation standpoint, but regardless of who’s in the lineup, the Bucks generally present a very difficult challenge, based on their excellent offensive spacing and three-point shooting. Milwaukee was eighth in offensive efficiency last season, as well as fourth in 2018-19.

“We’re going to focus on packing the paint and limiting their layups,” Pelicans reserve forward Sindarius Thornwell said. “We’ll go from there. Limit their attacks at the rim and try to stay in front of the ball, to guard the ball the best way we can, and load up behind the ball.” …

Josh Hart on returning to Smoothie King Center for a basketball game, for the first time since March 6: “I’m very excited. After not being here for what, five or six months? We’re excited to get this game under our belt and go against a top contender. It was a short training camp and short preseason schedule. We’re just trying to keep building those habits to make us successful. We’re taking this game very seriously. We’re anxious and excited to be out there.” …

Hart on matching up against 2019-20 Pelicans teammate Jrue Holiday: “It’s definitely going to be weird. I’m really competitive and all that, but that might be one I smile about. It’s going to be good to see him and see him having success. Obviously he’s with a contender. We’re all rooting for him, every other game except for those two (when New Orleans plays Milwaukee). There definitely will be some friendly trash talk going on.”

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