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Warriors vs. Pelicans Preview: Let the trilogy begin

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Golden State and New Orleans face off three times in the final two weeks of the season.

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New Orleans Pelicans v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors have eight games remaining. Three of those eight are against the New Orleans Pelicans, including a road back-to-back tonight and tomorrow.

Strap on your Marvel attire — if you’re watching the alternate, Marvel-themed broadcast — and let’s do some basketball.

The deets

Who: Golden State Warriors (32-32) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (29-35)

When: 4:30 p.m. PT

Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, Louisiana

TV: ESPN (available on fuboTV)

Projected starting lineups:

Warriors: Stephen Curry, Kent Bazemore, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney
Pelicans: Lonzo Ball, Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, Steven Adams

Last results:

Warriors: Beat the Rockets 113-87 — 3-2 in their last 5 games
Pelicans: Beat the Timberwolves 140-136 — 3-2 in their last 5 games

Team ratings (garbage-time adjusted, per Cleaning The Glass):

Warriors: 110.0 offense (24th), 111.2 defense (7th), -1.2 net (20th)
Pelicans: 115.0 offense (9th), 114.9 defense (26th), +0.1 net (16th)

Injury report:

Warriors:
QUESTIONABLE: Andrew Wiggins
OUT: Damion Lee
OUT: Eric Paschall
OUT: Kelly Oubre Jr.
OUT: James Wiseman
OUT: Klay Thompson

Pelicans:
QUESTIONABLE: Steven Adams
OUT: Josh Hart
OUT: Nickeil Alexander-Walker
OUT: Marcos Louzada Silva

The story

The Warriors are in an interesting spot in the standings, as they currently sit 9th in the West. They have a good chance of rising to 8th — which would give them a much more favorable slot in the play-in games — as they’re only a half game behind the Memphis Grizzlies.

The only team on the outside of the playoff picture in the West that still has a chance to sneak in is the Pelicans, who sit three games behind the Dubs, and 2.5 behind the 10th-seeded San Antonio Spurs.

Needless to say, these three games against New Orleans are vital for the Warriors. Not only is a win tonight important, but learning some things about the Pelicans so they can win the next two is pretty crucial as well.

Players to watch

Warrior to watch: Draymond Green.

If the Warriors want to rise in the standings and secure a double-elimination spot rather than the single-elimination spot they currently occupy, then they need Green to be the defensive superstar and All-Star impact player that he’s been at many times this season.

That’s especially true against New Orleans, where he’ll be tasked with defending Zion Williamson, and will try and lead an offensive outburst against a poor defensive team.

Pelican to watch: Zion Williamson.

What’s there to be said about Williamson that hasn’t already been said? He’s still only 20 years old, has a mere 83 career games under his belt, and yet he’s averaging 27.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game. He gets to the rim more often than any player in the NBA — by a comfortable margin — and is one of the league’s most efficient stars, with a 65.2% true-shooting percentage. He’s good for at least five highlight plays a night, and they can come anywhere on the court.

Matchup to watch: Andrew Wiggins vs. Brandon Ingram.

This is assuming that Wiggins — who is listed as questionable — plays.

There are a lot of similarities between Wiggins and Ingram. They have similar body types, jump shots that look a fair bit like one another, and a lot of stylistic overlap. Ingram is certainly the better of the two players, but Wiggins is capable of matching or exceeding him on any given night.

Neither is their team’s best player, but both are important catalysts who need to play well if their team wants to win.

Keys to victory

  • Hold Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball to modest offensive nights.
  • Find some bench production despite being ravaged by injuries.
  • Keep the ball moving and take advantage of a poor defensive opponent.

Find that win, Dubs. It’ll go a long way.