Is Jonas Valanciunas playing tonight against the Warriors?

Jonas Valanciunas, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
Jonas Valanciunas, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

Earlier this week, the New Orleans Pelicans were informed that, on top of having to play basketball without their best player in Zion Williamson, they would also be without key rotational pieces in Larry Nance Jr. and Jose Alvarado.

On top of that, when they ended their four-game losing streak on national television against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday, they did so without their starting center Jonas Valanciunas (calf).

There was some hope that, after being listed as questionable to play against the Blazers, Valanciunas would ultimately be upgraded to probable tonight against the Golden State Warriors. But alas, it looks like things are moving backward instead of forward, as Valanciunas has been downgraded to doubtful for tonight’s contest.

To make matters worse, the team will also be missing Josh Richardson’s services in this game (personal reasons). Richardson, of course, was acquired by the team in exchange for Devonte’ Graham and draft compensation on the day of the trade deadline.

Since then, Richardson has suited up for six games for the team, averaging 9.7 PPG/2.3 RPG/2.3 APG/2.7 SPG/0.5 BPG on 61.3% True Shooting (+3.3 percentage points above the league average) during that time. In fact, he’s played so well that he’s leapfrogged Trey Murphy III in the depth chart, starting in his place in the last four games.

With all these injuries, Coach Willie Green will look to players like Dyson Daniels, Kira Lewis Jr., Jaxson Hayes, and Willy Hernangomez to fill the void left in these players’ absence.

One thing that we saw against Portland that we could see used against the Warriors tonight is a small-ball lineup featuring Herb Jones at the five alongside Naji Marshall, Brandon Ingram, Trey Murphy III, and CJ McCollum.

Coach Green subbed Jones in for Hayes at the 9-minute mark of the fourth quarter with his team up by one. From there, the unorthodox unit was able to push the lead all the way up to 14 before ultimately securing an 11-point road win.

While the sample was small, they played a big part in helping to shut the door on the Trail Blazers and put an end to their recent losing skid.

Hopefully, all these injuries don’t derail the team too much, and New Orleans can keep the momentum they created against Portland going against the Warriors tonight.

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