An NBA Western Conference battle will ensue on Wednesday when the Portland Trail Blazers face the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center. The Blazers and Pelicans will be playing on back-to-back nights with both teams winning their games on Tuesday.
The New Orleans Pelicans routed the Memphis Grizzlies 144-113 with Zion Williamson scoring 31 points on 13-of-16 field-goal shooting. The visiting Blazers head into the match against the Pelicans after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder 115-104 as Damian Lillard led the charge with a 30-point, 10-assist night.
Fixture - Portland Trail Blazers vs New Orleans Pelicans | 2020-21 NBA Season
Date & Time - Wednesday, February 17th, 9:00 PM ET (Thursday, February 18th, 7:30 AM IST)
Venue - Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA
Portland Trail Blazers Preview
The Portland Trail Blazers are riding on a season-high 5-game winning streak and they’re doing it without C.J. McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic. Damian Lillard is playing like an MVP and he is leading the Blazers to a series of wins. But Portland isn’t just about Dame Time.
The best example is their victory against the East-leading Philadelphia 76ers earlier this month, which came without Lillard. This Portland Trail Blazers team has learned how to win with whatever they’ve got. Against the New Orleans Pelicans, they will have both the confidence and the momentum. However, the Pelicans will not be easy pickings.
Key Player - Damian Lillard
One of the most overlooked stars this season has to be Damian Lillard. The All-Star guard is flying under the radar while carrying his team to the fourth-best record in the Western Conference while missing two of its top six scorers. If that isn’t MVP material then I don’t know what is.
Lillard will be quite a handful for either Lonzo Ball or Eric Bledsoe, especially when he’s on a roll. The New Orleans Pelicans will try to get the ball out of the Portland Trail Blazers guard's hands, but their offense has diversified enough that it’s not as dependent on Lillard as before.
Portland Trail Blazers Predicted Lineup
G Damian Lillard G Gary Trent Jr. F Derrick Jones Jr. F Robert Covington C Enes Kanter
New Orleans Pelicans Preview
The New Orleans Pelicans broke a three-game losing streak by winning big against the Grizzlies. It took a Herculean effort from Zion Williamson and Josh Hart (27 points, six threes) in order to break the game wide open. Brandon Ingram also contributed to the win with 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting and 4-of-4 from three.
When they meet the Portland Trail Blazers, the Pelicans have to contain Damian Lillard while keeping his teammates from making their threes. The Blazers are second in the league in 3-pointers made and this is what the Pelicans have to take away from them.
Key Player - Zion Williamson
Zion Williamson is getting better both offensively and defensively as the season wears on. In his last eight games, Williamson has averaged 27.1 points on 69.7 percent shooting from the floor while dishing out 4.8 assists per game.
During that stretch, the New Orleans Pelicans forward also made 80.3 percent of his free-throw attempts. Once one of his weaknesses, Williamson’s free-throw shooting has improved to the point where you can no longer foul him to prevent him from scoring.
Williamson has to improve his rebounding numbers (6.8 this season) to the point where he’s grabbing at least eight or more per game. No one on the Portland Trail Blazers can stop him one-on-one and he will be a nightmare to guard even for help defenders.
New Orleans Pelicans Predicted Lineup
G Lonzo Ball G Eric Bledsoe F Brandon Ingram F Zion Williamson C Steven Adams
Blazers vs Pelicans Match Prediction
The Portland Trail Blazers are facing a team that’s still learning how good it is and that’s one of their main advantages. Just when you think that the New Orleans Pelicans have it all figured out, they end up with empty possessions and they’re leaving opposing players open.
The Pelicans’ advantage is that they are playing on their home floor and they have almost all their pieces together. But Steven Adams is questionable to play after suffering a lower back injury on Tuesday, so their top interior defender is compromised even if he plays.
The Portland Trail Blazers have the bigger advantage and if the New Orleans Pelicans don’t have their defense in order, Dame Lillard and co. could bury this team in an avalanche of points.
Where to Watch Blazers vs Pelicans?
The Portland Trail Blazers-New Orleans Pelicans match will be shown locally by NBC Sports Northwest and FOX Sports New Orleans. International viewers can watch the game with an NBA League Pass subscription.