Steven Adams (now with Memphis) and Jonas Valanciunas (New Orleans) vie for a rebound last season

Top 10 Pelicans Home Games of 2021-22: No. 1 vs. Grizzlies

by Jim Eichenhofer


Tuesday, Feb. 15 (7 p.m.)

Why it’s on the list

Since benefiting from the fortuitous bounce of ping-pong balls during the 2019 draft lottery, New Orleans and Memphis have been on a path to a potentially intriguing Southwest Division rivalry, with Zion Williamson and Ja Morant helping to lead the two franchises. In the two seasons since those longtime friends were picked No. 1 and 2 overall, the Pelicans have dominated the head-to-head series (5-1), but the Grizzlies have experienced more overall success, reaching the 2020 play-in round and the 2021 playoffs. Williamson and Morant have lived up to their draft status and quickly become two of the NBA’s most productive and entertaining young players. Both squads also rely on a stable of early-20s prospects that they hope will continue to develop and ascend over the next few years.

Where it falls on the New Orleans schedule

The mid-February matchup marks the second time this season that the Pelicans will play a Monday/Tuesday home/home back-to-back, a relatively odd aspect of their 2021-22 slate. Largely due to the convenience for fan attendance, most NBA home/home back-to-backs take place on weekends, usually with a Friday/Saturday combination. In this instance, New Orleans will host Toronto on Valentine’s Day, then face Memphis the next evening. The back-to-back is part of a six-game homestand for the Pelicans that leads into the 2021 All-Star break.

What’s new in Memphis

The Grizzlies’ biggest offseason move involved the Pelicans, with Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe being sent north along the Mississippi River in exchange for Jonas Valanciunas (Bledsoe was later dealt to the Clippers). Adams will likely have a prominent role in trying to replace Valanciunas, a very productive scorer and rebounder for Memphis. The Grizzlies also added lottery pick Ziaire Williams after trading up seven spots in Round 1 of the draft with the Pels. The other most prominent Memphis roster departures were Grayson Allen (Milwaukee) and Justise Winslow (Clippers).

#PelicansHomeGamesBracket results

Seeded 13th in the 16-team tournament, the Grizzlies’ “Cinderella story” featured tight or relatively close victories over Brooklyn, Golden State, the Lakers and Milwaukee. Unlike several of the other matchups in the bracket, Memphis did not dominate any of them, winning by no greater than 58 percent in the four rounds. The final-round triumph over the Bucks essentially was decided by just two votes.

Other 2021-22 games between these teams

Saturday, Nov. 13, Memphis at New Orleans

Tuesday, March 8, New Orleans at Memphis (TNT)

Saturday, April 9, New Orleans at Memphis

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