NEW ORLEANS, La. – After a disappointing 0-2 start to the Orlando seeding games, the New Orleans Pelicans have had time to reflect and regroup ahead of a must-win game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
“It’s a big game for us. Memphis is obviously in the playoffs, and we’re obviously trying to make the playoffs, so it’s going to be a high-intensity game from both teams. Plus, we have to play a lot better than we did last game, so it’s going to be a high-intensity game, a very important game for both teams. Like I said before, we’re going to come out ready,” says Pelicans Center Derrick Favors.
The Pelicans currently sit at 11th in the Western Conference standings, 3.5 games behind the Grizzlies.
After a clean, sharp defensive showing in their first 3 scrimmages, the Pelicans took a step back last week, blowing a 16-point lead to the Utah Jazz and allowing the Los Angeles Clippers to shoot 54% from the 3 point line.
Pelicans veterans say that they need to do a better job defensively, especially against a young Grizzlies core led by NBA Rookie of the Year front-runner, Ja Morant.
Pelicans Guard JJ Redick says, “I’ve seen greatness. I’ve seen a lot of greatness. He’s an exciting player. I’ve been impressed with his feel for the game. Obviously he’s an explosive athlete, but he really is great with change of pace; he doesn’t play at one speed. His vision, his court awareness… We get sort of enamored with his athleticism, but the guy can just flat-out play basketball and he’s a really smart player. Him and JJ (Jaren Jackson Jr.) and Dillon Brooks too – they have such a good young core of guys – they’ve given that team and organization a lot of promise and hope for the future.”
So far in the seeding games, the Pelicans are averaging 19 turnovers/game.
In their last game against the Clippers, the Pelicans faced their largest deficit in franchise history.
Redick says that the team has taken their licks and is ready to make a run in the 6 remaining seeding games.
Redick says, “Anytime you get your butt kicked it’s always a little disheartening in the locker room afterwards, but we’re an optimistic group. We still feel like we can win the rest of the games. Tonight’s huge, obviously, and we just have to take care of business tonight.”
“We’ve been through it. We know what it takes. We know what we need to do to keep this team going, especially during the games, during practices, and in the locker room, just being around the guys. We just continue to talk to them, saying, ‘you’ve just got to be ready.’ We played a bad game last game, so we have to come out and improve on that and know that this game means a lot. This is a big game for both teams like I said, and we need it. The sense of urgency is there; we need this game,” says Favors.
The Pelicans take on the Grizzlies tonight at 5:30 p.m.
It is worth noting that on Sunday, the Portland Trailblazers, Memphis Grizzlies, and Sacramento Kings both lost.