New Orleans Pelicans at Houston Rockets Preview
The New Orleans Pelicans will try to go 1-1 against their Texas opponents this week as they travel five hours west to take on the Houston Rockets, who are also coming off a loss in their opener against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The young Pelicans are looking to stay afloat after losing Zion Williams for at least eight weeks, though most expect it could be longer considering the injury.
Both teams enter tonight’s game looking for wins. If the Pelicans can put the clamps on Harden like Milwaukee did, they could be on their way to their first win, but that’s only one piece of the Rockets’ puzzle.
Time: 8:00 PM ET
Arena: Toyota Center, Houston, TX
Channel: FSNO, ATTSN-SW
Pelicans: Nicolo Melli (DTD), Darius Miller, Zion Williamson (O)
Rockets: Gerald Green, Nene, Michael Frazier (O)
New Orleans Pelicans Starting Lineup
The Pelicans have been picked as a team that could surprise this season and possibly earn a playoff spot, but starting 0-2 is likely not the best start towards that goal. Luckily the season is just getting started, but the next few weeks could be a test as they play without star rookie Zion Williamson.
The one encouraging sign early on is that the Pelicans have stayed competitive in their early games. They lost in overtime 122-130 in their opener, but against the Dallas Mavericks, they let a lead slip away and eventually lost 116-123.
Guard Jrue Holiday, who has been hot and cold in the early games, says the Pelicans just need to learn from their early mistakes.
“It’s all a learning process, and you can learn from everything, good or bad,” Holiday said. “Going back and seeing all the mistakes that are correctable is part of the biggest positive and not feeling like it’s a negative but feeling like it’s something we can look forward to.”
Another good sign for the Pelicans is that Brandon Ingram has looked solid. He is averaging 23.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and four assists per game. Aside from that, he has 2.5 blocks per game.
Houston Rockets Starting Lineup
The Houston Rockets looked sharp in the preseason with James Harden doing James Harden and regularly scoring over 40 points. But against a tough opponent in their opener against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Rockets struggled offensively, losing 111-117.
James especially struggled against Milwaukee’s gritty defense, shooting 2-of-13 from the field and 1-of-8 from long range.
“If we make those shots, it’s a different ballgame. We didn’t,” Harden said. “I’m very confident. We just watched film, and we’re probably more confident than we were before the game just by watching that film.
A lot has been made of some sort of conflict between Harden and Westbrook in their last game, which has gone viral, so it’ll be interesting to see how the on-court relationship plays out with the former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates.
Westbrook looked great in his Rockets debut with 24 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists.
Key Player Matchups
Jrue Holiday vs. James Harden
While JJ Redick is starting opposite Harden, Holiday is capable of defending several positions so I expect Alvin Gentry will give this assignment to him. Harden has an advantage on almost anyone in the league, but Holiday is a physical player that will look to make Harden work on every single shot.
Lonzo Ball vs. Russell Westbrook
Similar to Harden, Westbrook is a tough draw for any point guard in the league, as he utilizes his combination of strength, speed, and athleticism to penetrate for finishes at the rim. Ball has struggled with his shooting stroke to start the season, and he’ll be needed on both sides of the floor tonight to get the win.
Brandon Ingram vs. PJ Tucker
Ingram has been the leader of the Pelicans in the early going, and he is who the Pelicans have looked to for offense, but he’ll be defended by one of the more skilled perimeter defenders in the league tonight in Tucker. But Tucker won’t just be a force on defense. In his first game, he showed he can get it done on offense too, scoring 17 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
Harden is expected to bounce back from his Game 1 struggles, and he looks to be worth the fantasy investment at $11.5k on FanDuel with his projection against the Pelicans at 54.1, the highest of all players in today’s games. While he struggled offensively against the Bucks, he also had 14 assists and 7 rebounds.
Brandon Ingram probably fits in the category of both a stud pick and a value play for tonight. He is available for $7.4k and while his fantasy points are rising, he’s surprisingly still under $8k. He’s projected for 24 points tonight, but that’s well below his average for the first two games.
Eric Gordon seems like a steal at $4.8k. He is slated for a 21.9 point night.
Bet on Matchup
If you’re in Pennsylvania, you can bet on this matchup. Sports betting is legal in PA. Our top rated online sportsbook bonus offers can be found in our articles: Fanduel Sportsbook promo code, DraftKings Sportsbook promo code & Pointsbet promo code.