In the first meeting between the two teams this season, the LA Lakers beat the New Orleans Pelicans in January.
The ongoing NBA season has turned out to be a stressful one for the LA Lakers, who will visit the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday without LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
How they fare in their upcoming matches would determine where the LA Lakers would be seeded in the playoffs this year. The reigning champions are only 3.5 games ahead of the sixth-seed in the Western Conference.
The LA Lakers are coming off successive losses, one against the Atlanta Hawks (when James hurt his ankle) and against the Phoenix Suns (both James and Davis missing). Frank Vogel's team have a 28-15 record on the season and sit in third spot in the West.
Meanwhile, the 18-24 New Orleans Pelicans are fighting to get into the play-in spots and have taken three wins in their last five games. Their most recent win came against the Denver Nuggets on the road, with Zion Williamson putting up 30 points in just 13 field-goal attempts for the New Orleans Pelicans.
LA Lakers vs New Orleans Pelicans prediction - March 23rd, 2021 | NBA Season 2020-21
Logically, the New Orleans Pelicans might look as heavy favorites for this match. That's not only because of LeBron James' injury, but also because it happened quite recently and the LA Lakers might need some time to adapt to playing without James and Davis.
Nevertheless, the New Orleans Pelicans provide their rivals with too many opportunities to score. That could augur well for the prospects of the LA Lakers' struggling offense without 'The King' and AD.
The LA Lakers' offense, even with James, ranks 18th in the NBA in Offensive Rating, but the reigning champion has the best Defensive Rating in the league. However, without their two main stars, the LA Lakers conceded 111 points to the Phoenix Suns in their most recent putting, while they scored only 94.
Stan Van Gundy's team ranks seventh in the league this season in Offensive Rating (116.1 points scored per 100 possessions). However, their Net Rating is only 0.1 (15th in the league) because the New Orleans Pelicans' defense is the third-worst in The Association.
The LA Lakers are definitely in a crisis right now, but the New Orleans Pelicans' defense means the reigning champions will fancy their chances of a win even without James and Davis.
LA Lakers vs New Orleans Pelicans combined starting 5 - March 23rd, 2021 | NBA Season 2020-21
Shooting Guard - Dennis Schroder | Point Guard - Lonzo Ball | Small Forward - Brandon Ingram | Power Forward - Zion Williamson | Center - Montrezl Harrell.
Dennis Schroder has been a great addition to the LA Lakers' backcourt. The German point guard, who can play either at point or as a shooting guard, has been a solid safety net for LeBron James. He has also created a lot of plays for his teammates this season.
Schroder is averaging 15 points, 4.6 assists, 3.5 rebounds and a steal per game for the LA Lakers. He has started in each of his 39 appearances and has 44/32/83 shooting splits. Schroder is the team's third option in offense and could be key in the upcoming period without LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Meanwhile, in the New Orleans Pelicans backcourt, Lonzo Ball has also been good, especially in offense. Though Ball missed the previous game against the Denver Nuggets and is doubtful for this match due to a hip injury, his offensive performances this season deserve some recognition.
Ball is having his best offensive season in the competition this campaign. He is averaging a career-high 14.2 points and 5.6 assists per game to go with 4.2 rebounds per game and 43/39/77 shooting splits. His improvement from the free-throw line has been noteworthy.
Lonzo Ball shot 49% from the free-throw mark in his first three seasons; that percentage has gone up to 77% this campaign.
Meanwhile, Brandon Ingram is a great offensive player and has been key for the New Orleans Pelicans. He could have a big outing against the injury-depleted LA Lakers. Ingram is putting up 23.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists this season, doing so with 47/38/88 shooting splits.
Zion Williamson surely has the most potential in the New Orleans Pelicans roster, and he is as efficient as anyone can be in offense.
Williamson, in just his second season in the league, is averaging 25.7 points per game with a shooting efficiency of 62% from the field. He is also averaging seven rebounds and 3.4 assists per game and is shooting at 70% from the free-throw line.
Meanwhile, the LA Lakers' frontcourt will need Montrezl Harrell to perform at his absolute best in the upcoming weeks without the team's best players; Harrell has the game to step up during this period.
The reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Harrell is averaging 14.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in his first season with the LA Lakers. He has also made 64% of his field goals and 73% of his free throws.
Harrell could be a contender for the Sixth Man of the Year award again; he has been durable for the LA Lakers so far, as he has played in 43 games for the reigning champions this season.