The Philadelphia 76ers have the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, while the New Orleans Pelicans have struggled for efficiency, particularly in defense.
The 35-16 76ers are coming off a solid win over the Boston Celtics on the road and have won seven of their last ten games. Meanwhile, New Orleans Pelicans are 11th in the West, two games off the play-in positions, after a 22-29 start to their campaign.
This will be the first meeting of the season between the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Orleans Pelicans. They'll meet again on May 7th.
Philadelphia 76ers vs New Orleans Pelicans prediction
The Philadelphia 76ers are one of the title contenders this season, while the New Orleans Pelicans are at the opposite end of the spectrum.
The young core of the New Orleans Pelicans has impressed in spurts, with All-Stars Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson playing tremendously in offense, while young players like Lonzo Ball have stepped up too.
The New Orleans Pelicans' offense is eighth-best in the league this season, but their net rating (-0.7) is only 17th-best. Stan Van Gundy's team have massively struggled in defense, though; they have the third-worst defensive rating in the league.
Doc Rivers' Philadelphia 76ers, meanwhile, are 13th in offensive rating but have the second-best defensive rating in the league. The Sixers have been efficient at both ends of the floor and are a contender in the Eastern Conference.
On that note, let's have a look at a hypothetical combined starting 5 of the two teams.
Philadelphia 76ers vs New Orleans Pelicans combined starting 5
Point Guard - Ben Simmons | Shooting Guard - Seth Curry | Small Forward - Tobias Harris | Power Forward - Zion Williamson | Center - Joel Embiid.
Ben Simmons is the Philadelphia 76ers' leader in offense, as he creates plays for his teammates with consistency and can impose his physicality against smaller opposition point guards.
Simmons is averaging 15 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game this campaign. He has had a 55% field-goal percentage but has struggled from the free-throw line, where he has a 63% split. In defense, Simmons has been the best perimeter defender for the Philadelphia 76ers, as he is versatile, considering his size and athleticism.
Meanwhile, Seth Curry would take his place in this hypothetical lineup ahead of New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball. That's because Curry is a natural shooting guard and is also enjoying an extraordinary season at this position. He has put up 12.6 points per game, with 46/42/89 shooting splits, this campaign.
Another great piece in the Philadelphia 76ers roster, and someone who is efficient at both ends of the floor, is Tobias Harris. However, it is to be noted that the New Orleans Pelicans' best player does not play with great intensity in defense.
Harris has posted 20.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists, a steal and a block per game so far for the Philadelphia 76ers. He has also put up tremendous shooting splits, almost reaching 50/40/90 (52/40/89.5). Brandon Ingram was definitely a contender for this spot, but Harris got the nod, as he has been more efficient.
Meanwhile, the New Orleans Pelicans' 20-year-old Zion Williamson has become the team's best and most dominant player. He is averaging a team-high 26.3 points, seven rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. He has also made a whopping 62% of his field goals and 71% of his free throws.
MVP candidate Joel Embiid would round off this hypothetical combined lineup. He has endured an injury-riddled campaign that has seen him drop down the pecking order in the race for the MVP award this season.
Nevertheless, Embiid has performed well at both ends of the court whenever he has been available. The Cameroonian center is averaging 29.9 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. He is also third in the NBA in Defensive Rating and leading the league in Player Efficiency Rating.