With Pelicans’ Defense in Shambles, Expect Shootout vs. Pacers

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 8:25 PM UTC

Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018 8:25 PM UTC

It’s two teams trying to hang on to playoff spots in their respective conferences Wednesday night when Indiana makes its lone trip of the season to New Orleans.

Indiana Pacers at New Orleans PelicansFree NBA Pick: OverBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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It’s an 8 p.m. ET start from the Big Easy on Wednesday as the Indiana Pacers visit the New Orleans Pelicans for the only time this season. It’s the lone game on the night’s schedule that doesn’t feature one team in the second of a back-to-back.

The Pacers have won 12 of the past 15 in this series. They were 1.5-point home underdogs on Nov. 7 and lost to the Pelicans, 117-112. The smallish Pacers had no answers for the New Orleans Twin Towers of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. Davis was 14-for-18 from the field for 37 points with 14 rebounds, while Cousins had 32 points, 13 rebounds and six assists as the Pelicans rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit.

At least Indiana won’t have to worry about Cousins now. After shooting 63.8 percent from the field before intermission in the first meeting, the Pacers hit just 30.4 percent in the second half. Myles Turner led Indiana with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Victor Oladipo was held to 15 points on 6-for-17 shooting and was a team-worst minus-15.

New Orleans is looking to sweep the regular season series over the Pacers for the first time since the 2009-10 season. The road team has covered five of the past six meetings.

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Defensive Issues Sans Cousins

When you think of Cousins, you think of his amazing offensive ability as the All-Star big man was averaging 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists this season; only a few players in league history have averaged those numbers over a full season. Of course, Cousins was lost to a season-ending torn Achilles’ tendon on Jan. 26 vs. Houston – which could affect his free-agent plans and delay his start to the 2018-19 season.

No question, Cousins is a beast offensively, but he has really been missed on defense since going out despite a defensive rating of 106.2 this year per NBA.com. That’s 273rd in the NBA – by comparison, San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard leads with a rating of 95.2. The Pelicans were bombed at home by Utah on Monday, 133-109, to fall to 1-4 straight-up and ATS since Cousins was injured. In each of the four losses, the Pelicans have allowed at least 112 points. The Jazz’s point total was a season high and they shot 58.4 percent from the field. New Orleans inserted trade addition Nikola Mirotic – a terrible defender – into the starting five for that one for the first time since Mirotic came over from the Bulls. It didn’t go well as he was 2-for-8 for five points and missed all four three-point tries.

To say Indiana relies a lot on its All-Star guard Oladipo is a bit of an understatement. Oladipo missed Monday’s game vs. Washington, which the Wizards won 111-102 to drop the Pacers to 0-6 without Oladipo this season. They have lost those six by an average of more than 12 points.

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Coach Nate McMillan says Victor Oladipo was not at practice today but will make the trip with the team. Asked if Vic will start tomorrow, Coach said, “We hope so. We’ll see how he feels.” pic.twitter.com/ClMyIZRCTV

— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) February 6, 2018

Oladipo is listed as questionable for Wednesday but is traveling with the club (as you can plainly see above). Starting point guard Darren Collison also sat Monday and will miss 2-3 weeks following undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. Collison was the team’s best three-point shooter in hitting a career-high 43.2 percent. Cory Joseph started for Collison on Monday and Lance Stephenson for Oladipo.

The line on this game will depend on Oladipo, but we’re going to keep hammering the ‘over’ on the Pelicans until they can figure out how to defend. The ‘over’ has hit in 20 of the team’s past 28 at home regardless. It’s 5-2-1 in Indiana’s past eight. Go ‘over’ for your Wednesday NBA pick.

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