With a little more than a month left before the start of the 2023-24 NBA season, Pelicans.com writer Jim Eichenhofer shares an opponent and matchup breakdown of the Top 10 games for Pelicans fans to watch at the Smoothie King Center this season.
DALLAS MAVERICKS AT NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
Tuesday, Nov. 14 (7 p.m., In-Season Tournament)
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Why it’s on the list
As fellow members of the Southwest Division, Dallas and New Orleans have engaged in a bit of a regional rivalry over the past two decades, though both teams have rarely been near the top of the Western Conference standings at the same time. The Mavericks are headlined by the star backcourt duo of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, who were paired after Irving was dealt midway through last season by the Brooklyn Nets. Dallas’ visits to the Smoothie King Center tend to yield tightly-contested, entertaining games – the Pelicans beat the Mavericks by margins of two and seven points last season.
Pelicans players to watch
In his first full season with New Orleans, guard CJ McCollum was at his best when facing Dallas, averaging 21.7 points and 8.0 assists over three games, compiling shooting splits of 48/53/75. Meanwhile, reserves Naji Marshall (14.8 ppg, 53 percent shooting) and Larry Nance Jr. (10.5 ppg, 83 percent shooting) helped the Pelicans post a pair of victories over the Mavericks. Over his three career meetings against Dallas, Zion Williamson has averaged a gaudy 31.7 points on 68 percent shooting from the field.
Where it falls on the New Orleans schedule
When the NBA implemented multi-game, “baseball series” into the regular season schedule in 2020-21, it was intended primarily to allow geographically-distant opponents to reduce travel (for example, New Orleans playing at Portland twice consecutively, instead of making two separate trips to the Pacific Northwest). Oddly, although the cities of New Orleans and Dallas are only 500 miles apart, the Pelicans and Mavericks have two “baseball series” on the schedule. Two straight mid-November home games vs. Dallas will launch a six-game Smoothie King Center stretch for New Orleans.
Other 2023-24 games between these teams
Sunday, Nov. 12, Dallas at New Orleans
Saturday, Jan. 13, New Orleans at Dallas
Monday, Jan. 15, New Orleans at Dallas
New Orleans Pelicans 2023-24 NBA Schedule Release Video
Dallas was the bane of New Orleans’ existence during the early years of franchise history, with the Mavericks going an incredible 16-0 head-to-head from NOLA’s inaugural 2002-03 season through 2006-07. That accounts for a significant portion of what’s now a 52-26 all-time lead for Dallas in the season series. It’s been a more competitive matchup in recent years, with New Orleans at 6-4 in its last 10 home contests with the Mavs, but just 2-8 in the last 10 visits to American Airlines Center.
Highlighting a memorable New Orleans win
April 28, 2008: New Orleans 99, Dallas 94
The then-Hornets secured the first playoff-series triumph in franchise history, holding off the Mavericks in Game 5 of Round 1. In the much slower-paced NBA of that era, New Orleans didn’t reach the century mark in scoring despite shooting 48.7 percent from the field and 8/14 on threes. David West led the hosts with 25 points, followed closely by Chris Paul’s 24 points (and 15 assists).