Last season was a tough one for New Orleans Pelicans fans. The team struggled with injuries all season long as each of the top six players on the team missed games due to injury and the Pelicans suffered to a 34-48 record. The lone bright spot came at home though, where the Pelicans actually played above .500 basketball finishing with a 22-19 record in New Orleans which gave Pelicans fans a bit to be excited about. The team was even better during their longer home stands as they finished a combined 12-6 over their four longest home stands of the year last year (a six game and three, four game ones).
Unfortunately for the Pelicans they lose a few of those extended home stretches this season as they only have one extended home stand in 2014-2015, a six game stretch in late January and early February, mixed into a bunch of two and three game stops at home before heading back out on the road for a game or two. So how can that six game stretch play out for New Orleans? Let’s take a look:
January 25 vs. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavs are going to be a tough out for everyone this season after adding a defensive force in the middle in Tyson Chandler to an already very potent offense. Add in more production and floor spacing out of the small forward spot with the addition of Chandler Parsons and the Mavs should be set to compete for a top four seed in the West if they stay healthy. Dallas was fairly good on the road last year when they went 23-18 so this isn’t an easy start at all for New Orleans on their one long home stretch.
January 26 vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Things get much easier the next night though as the Pelicans take on what should be an awful Philadelphia 76ers team. Anthony Davis should have a field day in this one and the Pelicans will be heavy favorites to send the local fans home happy.
January 28 vs. Denver Nuggets
Denver was an awful road team last season at 14-27 but they look much different this year with the addition of Arron Afflalo and the healthy returns of Danilo Gallinari and JaVale McGee. The Pelicans look more talented 1-6 but the Nuggets are probably better 1-10 so this game could come down to top end talent against depth. Denver is one of the teams that will be in a dogfight with New Orleans for the 6-8 seeds so this would be a big win in the middle of the season if New Orleans can get it.
January 30 vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Chris Paul returns to New Orleans yet again to kick off a brutal final three games of the home stand. The Clippers should again be one of the best four teams in the Western Conference so the Pelicans will probably be underdogs in this one, especially after going just 1-3 against LA last season. If New Orleans does want to make the playoffs this coming season though they will have to win tough games so this sets up to be one of those tough ones to circle as one the Pelicans can steal.
February 2 vs. Atlanta Hawks
This is the easiest of the final three games on the home stand but it won’t be easy. The Hawks were 16-13 last season with Horford in the lineup and were starting to find their stride when the star big man went down. They should be even tougher this season with Horford back, a style of play that has been almost perfected and improved depth on the wing. It seems the most likely of the final three games for New Orleans to win at the moment but there is a very real chance they are underdogs heading into the night.
February 4 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
The long home stand ends with the toughest game of the bunch against reigning MVP Kevin Durant and the Thunder. The Pelicans were 1-2 last season against OKC with the lone win coming in the second to last game of the season when the Thunder played without Russell Westbrook. OKC remained mostly the same this offseason with just some minor additions and subtractions to mix things up while the Pelicans lost their best perimeter defender so slowing Kevin Durant may be impossible at this point. There are ways for New Orleans to win this game (Anthony Davis goes nuts, injuries or just a great team performance) but they are clear underdogs at this (way far away) point.
A season after a fair amount of success at home the Pelicans will surely be tested in the longest home stand they have in 2014-2015. But teams with playoff hopes in the Western Conference find ways to make those situations work and for a Pelicans team with those hopes there are ways to do it. If all goes right and the team is able to come away from these six games with four or more wins a spot in the Western Conference playoffs doesn’t just seem possible, it seems inevitable, at least as inevitable as it can six months from the games being played.
Tags: New Orleans Pelicans