Already on a franchise-worst 13-game losing skid, the New Orleans Pelicans don’t have a lot of winnable games before the start of the new decade.
The New Orleans Pelicans are currently bad and it might be quite sometime before they start being good. That’s not an eloquent sentence, but that’s about as good as of a way as I can summarize this team’s tumble to the bottom.
After a brutal overtime loss to the Brooklyn Nets at home last night, the Pelicans schedule gets even tougher over the last couple weeks of 2019.
Lacking many answers to stop their 13-game losing streak, the New Orleans Pelicans have to dig deep and find a way to curtail their losing ways.
However, there aren’t really a whole lot of easy games left for this team before we head into the new decade on New Year’s Day. It seems more likely that LSU football could win their next game before the Pelicans find their own next victory.
For the sake of metrics, we’ll use FiveThirtyEight’s win probability numbers, which account for a variety of matters including the team’s current performance and difficulty of schedule as factors into the formula for their odds.
Perhaps this won’t be the best measure, as the site currently still projects the New Orleans Pelicans to leave the 2019-2020 season with a 34-48 record with still a 19% chance to make the playoffs. That probably accounts heavily for an impactful return from Zion.
New Orleans Pelicans @ Minnesota Timberwolves (12/18)
Win Probability per FiveThirtyEight: 26% chance
Tonight, the Pelicans get to hit the road to face a rested Minnesota Timberwolves team for their first shot at ending their losing streak on a four-game road trip. While the New Orleans Pelicans were in action last night, the Timberwolves slept in their own beds, gaining a night of rest to their advantage.
Riding their own losing streak, one that’s currently stretched-out to seven games, the hot-starting Timberwolves have fallen to a 10-15 record that puts them eleventh in the Western Conference.
However, the Pelicans have struggled on the interior all season and Karl-Anthony Towns, who’s having a career-best year averaging 26.5 points, 11.7 rebounds, and shooting 41.8% from three. The towering big is listed as questionable for tonight’s game, but his presence alone could be too much for the Pelicans to match.
New Orleans Pelicans @ Golden State Warriors (12/20)
Win Probability per FiveThirtyEight: 63% chance
In a matchup between two of the worst teams in the league this season, the Pelicans will have to travel to San Francisco on Friday for a chance to take on the Golden State Warriors, who currently sit 5-23 and in 15ht place in the league.
This might be the best shot for this team to get a win. However, if they lose on the road in Golden State to extend the losing streak, they’ll become the team with the worst record in the NBA.
Golden State has an excuse to stink; Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are out for a majority of the year following a five-year title marathon. The New Orleans Pelicans have no excuse to be as bad as they are with so many solid veterans and interesting young players.
When these two teams met earlier in the season, they left with a split decision; the major difference in the Warriors’ 134-123 victory was the availability of Curry. Without the MVP guard, the Pelicans took a 108-100 victory over the lowly Warriors.
New Orleans Pelicans @ Portland Trail Blazers (12/23)
Win Probability per FiveThirtyEight: 40% chance
Last time this two squared-off, it was the first game Carmelo Anthony played in a Portland Trail Blazers‘ uniform, where he went 4-of-14 from the floor for 10 points, 4 rebounds, 5 turnovers, and was -20 on the night. The Pelicans found a way to win that one 115-104, but the Trail Blazers were without Damian Lillard in the loss.
Now heading to face a Portland squad that continues to climb the Western Conference standings, the New Orleans Pelicans will try to fend off a squad that’s won six of their last ten games. They’re currently sitting at 11-16, but have found their identity with the addition of Anthony.
Sitting in the 9th spot in the West, the Trail Blazers are playing good basketball and will fight tooth-and-nail to get a win over a faltering Pelicans club.
New Orleans Pelicans @ Denver Nuggets (12/25)
Win Probability per FiveThirtyEight: 19% chance
On Halloween Day, the New Orleans Pelicans dominated the Denver Nuggets in New Orleans for a 122-17 victory, a game where Brandon Ingram posted 25 points and Jahlil Okafor led the game’s scorers with 26 points.
In the months since, the Nuggets have started much better basketball and are now 17-8, sitting fourth in the Western Conference.
This game doesn’t seem like a winnable affair; it’ll be the tail end of a four-game road trip in a game that won’t have a ton of favorable matchups for New Orleans. Seemingly, the Nuggets seem apt to avenge their previous holiday loss to the Pelicans with a home win on Christmas day.
Indiana Pacers @ New Orleans Pelicans (12/28)
Win Probability per FiveThirtyEight: 73% chance
Coming back home after a rough road trip, the Pelicans will face an Indiana Pacers club who’ve started the season 19-9 and in sixth place in the East even as they wait for the return of Victor Oladipo. Competing hard with every team they’ve played, Nate McMillian has a team that could really make some noise in the East.
Sure, the odds are the highest here of any game over the next stretch of the season, but the Pacers are a really awesome team who just beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night. This Pacers team will be incredibly hard for a less-than-physical New Orleans team to handle.
Houston Rockets @ New Orleans Pelicans (12/29)
Win Probability per FiveThirtyEight: 40% chance
This game seems like an almost impossible victory for the Pelicans on the tail end of a back-to-back just a few days after the end of their marathon road trip. I don’t buy this team’s ability to defend James Harden or Russell Westbrook to the level it’ll take to knock-off the Houston Rockets.
Already 0-2 against the Rockets on the year, it’d be incredibly surprising the New Orleans Pelicans find a way to beat that club without Zion Williamson back in the mix.
By the way, the New Orleans Pelicans open the next decade on the road to face the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 3, 2020. Simply, the Pelicans HAVE to start playing harder or their losing streak is going to get more than just historical for their own franchise.