The New Orleans Pelicans will play their third straight game on the road in the 2020-21 NBA when they battle the Denver Nuggets at the Ball Arena on Sunday. The Pelicans lost their first two games in this period to the Portland Trail Blazers.
The New Orleans Pelicans are coming off a 124-125 heartbreaking defeat against the Trail Blazers. They are now seven games below .500, with a season record of 17-24, which is the third-worst in the Western Conference, along with that of the Sacramento Kings.
Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets are peaking at just the right time. They have won three consecutive games and eight of their last nine to improve to 25-16 on the season.
On Friday, they needed overtime to secure a 131-127 win against the Chicago Bulls as Jamal Murray drained a game-tying three in regulation time to lift them from the brink of defeat.
The New Orleans Pelicans are better rested, while the Denver Nuggets have momentum with them, which could make for an enticing clash on Sunday.
Fixture - New Orleans Pelicans vs Denver Nuggets | 2020-21 NBA Season.
Date & Time - Sunday, March 21st; 3:00 PM ET (Monday, March 22nd; 12:30 AM IST).
Venue - Ball Arena, Denver, CO.
New Orleans Pelicans Preview
For the Denver Nuggets game, the New Orleans Pelicans could miss the services of Lonzo Ball, who has a right hip flexor strain. The 23-year-old is listed as questionable for the clash. He joins JJ Redick (heel inflammation) on the team's injured list.
If Ball doesn't play, Nickeil Alexander-Walker could take his spot in the starting lineup. Though he’s not as good a defender, the sophomore guard is more explosive offensively, which is evidenced by his 37-point performance on Jan. 13. But offense isn’t the New Orleans Pelicans’ only problem this season.
Coach Stan Van Gundy has been preaching defense all campaign, but the New Orleans Pelicans have been inconsistent at that end of the floor. If he can harness his team’s youth and athleticism, the New Orleans Pelicans could salvage what’s left of the regular season by beating the Denver Nuggets.
Key Player - Zion Williamson
Zion Williamson has barely scratched the surface of his potential, but the New Orleans Pelicans will hope he produces a big outing on Sunday. The team are in danger of falling out of the postseason race, so the super sophomore has a significant responsibility.
For the most part, the New Orleans Pelicans forward has deferred to his more seasoned teammates in offense. In late January, coach Van Gundy accelerated his development by giving Williamson the ball and using him as a playmaker. Now, they may need him to take over the entire flow in offense to resurrect the team's inconsistent campaign.
Williamson as the focal point of the New Orleans Pelicans offense could be key for the team against the Denver Nuggets.
While he is averaging 25.6 points per game on 61.8% field-goal shooting this season, the New Orleans Pelicans forward could have a breakout second half if he takes at least 20 shots a game. The Denver Nuggets will have a hard time stopping him if he does so.
New Orleans Pelicans Predicted Lineup
G Lonzo Ball, G Eric Bledsoe, F Brandon Ingram, F Zion Williamson, C Steven Adams.
Denver Nuggets Preview
The Denver Nuggets have the league's second-ranked offense this season, with a 116.6 offensive rating. They have five players averaging in double-figures, while three others have put up at least 9.1 points per outing. Led by Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, there are few teams that can match the Denver Nuggets in offense, and fewer still who can stop them from scoring.
Their defense isn’t as highly regarded, but the Denver Nuggets have improved in that department in recent games. They have the eighth-best defense in the league with a 108.7 defensive rating.
In their quest to go all the way this season, this is excellent news for the team, as they have organically put together one of the league's best teams in the last few seasons.
Key Player - Nikola Jokic
Nikola Jokic is orchestrating the Denver Nuggets offense to perfection, and there are few frontcourt players who can guard a 6' 11" passer and scorer. His combination of size and skill is a nightmare for opposing big men.
In his last nine games, Jokic is averaging a near-triple-double - 27.4 points, 12.2 rebounds and 9.2 assists per game. Very few players have as much impact on their team’s fate as the Serbian big man does, as he is making a very strong case to be this season's top player.
If the Denver Nuggets continue their winning ways, it may only be a matter of time before Jokic claims his first MVP award.
Denver Nuggets Predicted Lineup
G Jamal Murray, G Will Barton, F Michael Porter Jr., F Paul Millsap, C Nikola Jokic.
Pelicans vs Nuggets Match Prediction
This season, the Denver Nuggets are 14-10 against Western Conference teams. They will fancy their chances of winning another team from that Conference when they lock horns against the struggling New Orleans Pelicans.
Teams with a balanced offense usually cause the visitors plenty of problems because of their defensive issues, but the home team is as well-rounded as any.
However, the New Orleans Pelicans have won against some of the best teams in the league this season, such as the Utah Jazz and LA Clippers. When they find their mojo defensively, they can be tough to stop.
The New Orleans Pelicans are a Jekyll and Hyde team, and no one knows what to expect from them on a game-by-game basis.
Nevertheless, the Denver Nuggets are expected to win their fourth game on the bounce on Sunday.
Where to watch the New Orleans Pelicans vs Denver Nuggets game?
The game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Denver Nuggets will be shown on local television by FOX Sports New Orleans and Altitude Sports. The match can also be live-streamed with an NBA League Pass.