Houston Rockets vs Pelicans: 2017-18 Game 25: Five things to watch

NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 28: DeMarcus Cousins
NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 28: DeMarcus Cousins /

The 20-4 Houston Rockets have a date with the 14-13 New Orleans Pelicans, who have improved in many categories as a team but are still having trouble getting quality wins over their opponents.

So Houston Rockets fans, the New Orleans Pelicans twin towers connection with DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis is working and the rest of the supporting cast is chipping in tremendously causing them to transition into an offensive powerhouse.  However, their defense is still lagging, being ranked at toward the bottom of the league.

The Pelicans are ranked 21st in defensive efficiency, allowing 107.1 points per 100 possessions.  This is certainly the reason why this team is struggling to close out games, as then been in just about all they were involved in.

The Rockets have plenty of depth and it will certainly take to defend the Pels’ big men in the paint.  This could certainly be a shootout all the way until the end but ultimately we’re going to win this game because we have too much experience in knowing how to close games out efficiently, unlike our opponent.

1.) So who’s leading the charge for the Pelicans?

DeMarcus Cousins leads the team in points (26.2 PPG), boards (12.4 RPG) and frivolous acts of larceny (1.6 SPG).  Not surprisingly, Rajon Rondo is in charge of the dimes (8.1 APG) and Anthony Davis is the top shot-blocker (1.8 BPG).

2.) Let’s talk about what the Pelicans do well.

Their offense has improved dramatically year-over-year.  The Pelicans are now ranked 7th in offensive efficiency, averaging 107.4 points per 100 possessions.  This is up from 25th in 2016-17 where they averaged 103.3 points per 100, a full 4.1 points more just one season later.

They shoot the ball well as a team now.  The Pelicans are 5th in effective field goal percentage (54.9) and 5th in true shooting percentage (58.0).  These numbers are also up from being 20th(50.4)/23rd (53.9) last season.

They move the ball around effectively.  The Pelicans are 2nd in assist ratio with 19 percent of their possessions ending with an assist.  This is certainly an uptick over being ranked 14th (17.2 percent) back in 2016-17.

The use a lot of possessions to keep their offense humming.  The Pelicans are ranked 6th in PACE, averaging 102.4 possessions per game.

3.) Injuries:

There are no injuries to report for the Houston Rockets.

Tony Allen suffered a knee injury in last night’s contest against the 76ers.  He left the game and

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did not return.  I’d deem him as DOUBTFUL for today.

Jameer Nelson has been dealing with an ankle injury and sat out last night against Philadelphia at home.  I’d also deem as DOUBTFUL for tonight as well.

Alexis Ajinca had successful surgery on his right patellar tendon and won’t be active for the next four to six months.  This will likely effectively end his 2017-18 campaign as we know it.

Source(s): Scott Kushner of the Baton Rouge Advocate and the New Orleans Pelicans

4.) Matchups to Watch:

  1. Clint Capela vs. DeMarcus Cousins
  2. Ryan Anderson/Nene Hilario/Luc Mbah a Moute vs. Anthony Davis
  3. Chris Paul vs. Jrue Holiday/Rajon Rondo

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5.) Prediction:

115-108 in a Houston Rockets’ win!

The Rockets are at home to take on the Pelicans at Toyota Center.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST.

The game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet Southwest/NBA TV and broadcast on SportsTalk 790 AM, Sirius 207, XM/SiriusXM 86 (Internet 890) and La Ranchera 101.7 FM (KNTE) & 850 AM (KEYH) in Spanish.

Go Rockets.