Both teams are coming off disappointing losses. The Nets will begin what could be another long stretch playing without All-Star Kevin Durant, who suffered a left thigh contusion in their last game against the Miami Heat. Disaster would strike the Nets even further, as Bam Adebayo knocked down a jumper that sank them at the buzzer. The Heat won over Brooklyn despite a monster performance off the bench from Landry Shamet who finished with 30 points.
Brooklyn has had All-Stars in and out of the lineup for almost the entire season, so the situation is nothing they’re unaccustomed to. However, Kyrie Irving will be left to do the heavy lifting once more with James Harden set to miss his seventh game due to an injured hamstring.
With Harden and Durant out, Irving will need help from the supporting cast, which was depleted even further with the sudden retirement of LaMarcus Aldridge. Shamet, Nic Claxton and Blake Griffin will have to elevate their game, if they hope to stop the firepower of the Pelicans.
New Orleans was on the precipice of barging into the play-in tournament, but an ugly three-game losing streak has kept them in 11th place, chasing the San Antonio Spurs at 10th seed. Their last two games were overtime heartbreakers, including a series of unfortunate events in the clutch that caused them to lose to the New York Knicks.
The Pelicans shot 6-for-27 from the perimeter, a big culprit for their defeat. And with their noted defensive struggles, they will have their hands full stopping Irving and company.
All-Star Zion Williamson continues to be a bright spot for the Pelicans, as he poured in 34 points on 13-of 23-from the field, while chipping in nine rebounds and five assists. The Pelicans have embraced Point Zion, who has been the de facto playmaker due to the inconsistent play of guards Eric Bledsoe and Lonzo Ball.
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