The Pelicans were ravaged by injuries last season: Jrue Holiday played 34 games, Ryan Anderson 22, Eric Gordon 64, and even Anthony Davis missed 15 games.
This season, if they can stay healthy the Pelicans are a playoff team in the West.
Which is why this note from GM Dell Demps, via Nakia Hogan of the Times-Picayune, is a good sign.
The Pelicans are a team on the rise that had a great off-season. They have the fastest rising star in the NBA in Anthony Davis, a guy primed to breakout into the public consciousness using Team USA this summer as the springboard. Within a couple years he’ll be the third best player in the NBA.
But New Orleans needed a real center to pair with him, so they went and got Omer Asik from the Rockets during Houston’s “clear out the cap space” sale. He is a perfect fit next to Davis and may give New Orleans the best defensive front line in the NBA. Then they can bring Anderson, one of the game’s best stretch fours, off the bench (Davis and Anderson had crazy good +/- numbers when paired last season).
Then if the Holiday/Gordon backcourt steps up and Tyreke Evans can give them anything, you’ve really got something.
Something that will start with a trip to the playoffs next season.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.