Based on preseason predictions, New Orleans didn’t enter 2017-18 as a lock to make the playoffs in the extremely formidable Western Conference, but the Pelicans appear on virtually everyone’s list as one of the most intriguing head-to-head matchups for Golden State. While the champion Warriors have led a league-wide trend of downsized lineups that emphasize quickness over size, the Pelicans are going in the opposite direction, relying heavily on 6-foot-11 All-Stars Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
Golden State (0-1) will visit New Orleans (0-1) tonight on national TV, a game ESPN likely selected for its broadcast schedule partly due to the fascinating contrast in styles. As Cousins noted following Pelicans shootaround this morning, New Orleans will try to focus on doing what it does best, instead of trying to replicate Golden State’s approach to the game.
“They have a tendency to go small, so we’re going to try to take advantage of that,” said Cousins, who is facing the Warriors for the first time since his February arrival in the Crescent City. “We’re just going to go in and play our game. We know they are a tough team. We believe in ourselves, we believe in our system and the players that are here.”
The Warriors’ famed “Death Lineup” initially seemed like it may not be available in Friday’s game to Steve Kerr, but small-ball center Draymond Green (knee) and forward Andre Iguodala (back) are now both expected to play, via ESPN.com writer Chris Haynes.
Other notes from shootaround:
There weren’t many positives on the stat sheet Wednesday for New Orleans, but one was a 51-45 rebounding edge over Memphis. The Pelicans know that if they can pound opponents on the backboards, they may force teams to rethink relying heavily on smaller lineups that can’t hang in the paint vs. Cousins and Davis.
“It’s something that’s been talked about around here,” Cousins said of emphasizing being more effective rebounding-wise as a team. “We kind of struggled in that area throughout the preseason. So coaches have been in our ears about being aggressive on the boards. We’re just trying to make sure we do that.”
“A lot of teams might have to adjust the way they play against us,” said forward Darius Miller of the problems presented by two All-Star bigs. …
New Orleans enjoyed record attendance of 6,500 fans at its late-September open practice and also had a big showing this week during a season tip-off rally. Cousins on his expectations for Friday’s home opener in the Smoothie King Center: “I’m looking forward to a sold-out crowd tonight. I’m excited about that.” …
The Pelicans notched only 15 assists, against 18 turnovers, in the 103-91 loss at Memphis. Cousins noted that New Orleans needs to focus on making the sure the ball swings from side to side of the floor, not allowing the defense to key in on one offensive threat.