Preview: Philadelphia At New Orleans
When: 8:00 PM ET, Friday, February 19, 2016
Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, Louisiana
The New Orleans Pelicans have a hill to climb to get back into the Western Conference playoff picture. They look to take the first step when they emerge from the All-Star break and host lowly Philadelphia on Friday.
A 7-2 surge to end January had New Orleans entertaining thoughts of a second straight postseason berth, but it limped into the break with five losses in seven games to begin February. The Pelicans let the trade deadline come and go without a major move, instead acquiring little-used forward Jarnell Stokes for a draft pick in a swap with Miami. Ryan Anderson, the top bench scorer in the NBA, was rumored to be on the block but will remain a Pelican as he looks to bounce back from a shooting slump that saw him go 5-of-22 from the floor in the final two games before the intermission. The 76ers dropped six of seven contests prior to the break and are 3-24 on the road.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, CSN Philadelphia, FSN New Orleans
ABOUT THE 76ERS (8-45): Nerlens Noel practiced this week after missing a 114-110 loss to Sacramento on Feb. 10 due to a knee ailment, and he told reporters he is ready to go. Fellow big man Jahlil Okafor averaged 20.7 points, 12 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in his last three games and forward Robert Covington scored a career-high 29 points against the Kings. Philadelphia’s only action before the deadline was the acquisition of veteran center Joel Anthony and a second-round pick in a minor trade with Houston.
ABOUT THE PELICANS (20-33): Superstar Anthony Davis, who scored 24 points on 12-of-13 shooting in just 15 minutes of the All-Star Game, was hitting his stride in advance of the break. Since missing a meeting with Sacramento on Jan. 28, Davis averaged 25.4 points in eight games while shooting 50 percent or better in six of the contests. He had 32 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and three steals with no turnovers in the previous meeting with the Sixers, a 99-74 win on Jan. 26, 2015.
1. Philadelphia PG Ish Smith has 36 assists and just eight turnovers during a five-game stretch.
2. Pelicans PG Jrue Holiday is averaging 23.7 points, eight assists and 3.3 steals over his last three games.
3. New Orleans has won four straight home games against Eastern Conference opponents.
PREDICTION: Pelicans 104, 76ers 93