Frank Jackson rises for a layup vs. Portland's Jusuf Nurkic

Top 10 Pelicans Home Games of 2019-20: No. 9 vs. Trail Blazers

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS AT NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

Tuesday, Nov. 19 (7 p.m., NBA TV)

Why it’s on the list

Pelicans-Trail Blazers may not instantly register as a marquee matchup in the minds of many NBA fans, but it’s become an under-the-radar attractive option for broadcast networks – three of the four meetings will air on national TV this season (TNT also carried one early-season tilt at Moda Center in ’18-19). The clubs met in the first round of the ’18 playoffs, a memorable 4-0 sweep for New Orleans, but a forgettable outcome for Portland. The Trail Blazers answered with a 3-0 sweep of the Pelicans during the subsequent regular season.

Where it falls on the New Orleans schedule

Eleven of the Pelicans’ first 14 games are against opponents that qualified for the ’19 playoffs, a stretch that concludes with this Nov. 19 contest. In fact, among those 14 games, only Dallas (33-49, visits NOLA on Oct. 25) posted a record worse than 39-43. The importance of this Portland game could be magnified, due to New Orleans immediately leaving for a three-game West trip Nov. 20, with stops in Phoenix, Utah and Los Angeles (Clippers).

What’s new in Portland

NBA.com’s currently seventh-ranked West team made significant additions in veteran center Hassan Whiteside and wing Kent Bazemore, but lost numerous familiar faces from its rotation. Per NBA.com writer John Schuhmann, the Trail Blazers lost seven of their top 11 guys in playoff minutes, a productive group that includes Enes Kanter (Boston), Al-Farouq Aminu (Orlando), Mo Harkless (Clippers), Evan Turner (Atlanta) and Seth Curry (Dallas).

Matchups to watch

From a New Orleans perspective, the backcourt showdown between Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and Pelicans guards is an obvious one to highlight. The basketball world began to fully recognize Jrue Holiday’s two-way ability during his outstanding performance vs. Portland in the ’18 playoffs, as Holiday averaged 27.8 points in the four-game sweep, while Lillard shot just 35.2 percent from the field (30.0 percent on threes). The Pelicans added more defensive help this summer by trading for point guard Lonzo Ball.

Trail Blazers history in this countdown

Led by Lillard, Portland has reached the playoffs each of the past six years, but the Blazers haven’t always been deemed a headliner as a visiting squad. That’s starting to change, with Portland placing eighth on Pelicans.com’s rundown last season and ninth this time, after not appearing on the list over a four-year span from ’14-15 through ’17-18.

Other 2019-20 games between these teams

Monday, Dec. 23, New Orleans at Portland (NBA TV)

Tuesday, Feb. 11, Portland at New Orleans

Friday, Feb. 21, New Orleans at Portland (ESPN)

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